by Cynthia Chow
This week we have a review of the latest Zodiac mystery by Connie di Marco. We also have something very special-a conversation between Connie and Sunny Frazier about astrology & each of their astrology mystery series. Details at the end of this post on how to enter to win a copy of All Signs Point to Murder, and a link to purchase it from Amazon, and an indie bookstore where a portion of the sale goes to help support KRL.
“All Signs Point to Murder” A Zodiac Mystery by Connie di Marco
Review by Cynthia Chow
Being a best friend means being supportive through thick and thin, especially when called upon to be a bridesmaid. Julia Elizabeth Bonatti has been helping her college best friend Geneva Leary prepare for her wedding in Sonoma, in spite of the frantic demands of the wedding planner and the disappearance of the bride’s sister. Moira Leary does eventually appear —intoxicated and a bit worse for wear—but it is the coordinator Sally Stark who collapses after the ceremony. While the celebrations continue, so do the arguments and confrontations, eventually leading to shots ringing out in the middle of the night. Geneva’s brother-in-law Rob Ramer mistakenly shot at what he believed was an intruder, and in the confusion, they realize that the victim was, in actuality, Moira. Further perplexing is that Moira was shot not by Rob’s gun, but by the one owned by the new groom, David.
Julia pursued the study of astrology following the fatal hit-and-run of her fiancé Michael, desperately searching for clues or signs she had missed that would explain his death. Now a professional astrologer, Julia provides advice through a newspaper column as Zodia. Geneva’s despair over her new husband’s implication in the death of her sister stirs up all of Julia’s sympathies, causing her to engage both in astrological and more practical investigations. Moira had issues with both substance abuse and affairs, and her astrological chart made it clear that her life had been spinning out of control.
The second in a Zodiac Mystery series uses astrology to supplement very practical investigations. Through the study of birthdates and her charts, Julia is granted insight into people’s personalities and times of crisis, as well as their source of conflict. While astrology still hasn’t given her the answers she seeks for explanations and indicators leading up to her fiancé’s death, it has allowed her to comfort and guide others. Helping a friend move past a traumatic divorce further reveals just how committed Julia is to those she cares for, especially when it stirs up so many emotions over Michael. The author of cozy mysteries written as Connie Archer, di Marco continues to craft novels that balance light-hearted moments between characters with realistic trauma. The future looks promising for Julia even as she continues to look for answers, as she is supported by her good friends and guided by the stars.
Two Astrologers Chat: Sunny Frazier & Connie di Marco
Sunny: What first sparked your interest in astrology?
Connie: A girlfriend of mine, way back in college days, met an amateur astrologer at a party. She (the astrologer) was looking for people to practice on, and my friend insisted I go with her to meet this woman and have my birth chart set up. I was going through a very tough period in my life at the time. My mother had died very suddenly, my boyfriend had been hit by a car, it was a dreadful winter in Boston, and I was (besides being grief stricken) very worried about my dad. This woman saw the very difficult period I was going through and made predictions for the future. I was completely amazed then and thunderstruck later when her predictions materialized. I knew I had to learn more about astrology.
How about you, Sunny?
Sunny: I wrote all about my introduction to astrology in my first mystery, Fools Rush In. I was living in Los Angeles and walked by a dusty book store. There was a book in the window: Astrology for the Aquarian Age by Alexandra Mark. I went in and asked the clerk if I could look at the book in the window. He asked if I did astrology and for some reason I said yes. The book felt so familiar, and as I opened the pages, all the symbols also felt like something I knew.
Connie, at what point did you come out of the cosmic closet? Were you worried that people would think you were strange?
Connie: I think I happily waved my freak flag right from the beginning. I had a paper due for a class on philosophy of religion, something like that. Can’t remember the exact name now, and we had a young, very cool professor who was open to anything, so I offered to do his chart for my grade on the paper. I was a raw beginner, struggling and trying to learn, so it probably was a terrible first effort, but it was received in a good spirit.
I’ve really never been one to worry what people think—it’s probably bad thoughts anyway. But very recently, a potential reader asked if I really believed in “this stuff.” I replied that it works, and he should try it. I am surprised that some people (not all by any stretch) are resistant to the whole concept.
Have you run into that? Or do you find that readers of the Christie Bristol series are intrigued and want to know more?
Sunny: I kept my skills hidden, and for good reason. When I was in the Navy, they would have sent me to the shrink. When I was in law enforcement, I would have been considered crazy. They are pretty conservative. I wanted to be taken seriously so I played it down in my writing class. I was surprised they wanted more astrology, not less. My fan base is primarily women, which I’m good with, and they read their horoscopes in the newspaper, which drives me nuts.
What is your most unusual experience/prediction when doing someone’s horoscope or your own?
Connie: Ah, good question, Sunny ~ I’ve often been told that a prediction I’ve made—or a life change or epiphany that would be coming up—was amazingly accurate. Unfortunately, I usually don’t remember what I’ve said months later. But it is nice to hear. At least I feel I’ve offered something helpful.
But conversely, years ago I set up charts as a favor for a couple who lived out of state and of course had never met them face to face. They were probably in their fifties at the time, and both were Aquarians with lots of strong Uranus aspects in their charts. Well, how can you ignore that? Right? So I talked a lot about Uranian independence, and eccentricity, and a tendency to rebel and go their own way. For whatever reason, the wife of the couple was extremely offended at my interpretation of her husband’s chart and sent a very angry and critical letter. I was completely shocked. I looked over my notes and their charts and couldn’t imagine what I had said that she had found offensive. And I do think I was right on the money, but it taught me a valuable lesson. People can be in total denial about something that’s obvious to anyone who meets them. I must have hit a sore spot where her husband was concerned, so I can only imagine what was really going on in that relationship.
Today, although I’m not practicing, but if I were, I would approach that situation much differently. It’s important to meet privately and to observe body language and always tread very carefully. Noel Tyl (a very famous astrologer) has a lot to say about the art of counseling and observation. I had studied his books, and found them tough going at times, but I was fortunate to hear him speak at a small gathering one night. He tackled a tough subject—how to counsel the suicidal client. He was brilliant and compassionate and quite amazing.
How about you, Sunny? Any events that stand out in your mind? Do you have favorite astrological writers?
Sunny: Planets in Transit by Robert Hand is my favorite. It’s much more philosophical and spiritual than any other book I’ve found.
I have many interesting “weird” stories. Once, on a shopping trip with a friend and her son, I got a very strong vibe from the boy. I asked to do his chart, and I saw that his father was going to abduct him. His brother had done the same thing to his daughter. The dad was suppose to pick him up that night. I told the mother to get a room out of town for a night or two. Instead, she left town, got a new identity and was on the lam for 2 years. It was discovered later that the dad’s plan was to take the boy. Sometimes I hate being right.
In your book, the protag uses a computer generated chart. Do you use one?
Connie: Wow! That’s a fantastic story, Sunny! I wish I had something to tell you that was that dramatic. Please don’t hate being right, you saved that little boy from an abduction, even if it was a parental abduction. Do you remember the aspects that clued you in to the potential danger?
I have that book Planets in Transit, too. I’ve worn it thin over the years. Definitely one of the best transit books around. I’ve also read most of the Liz Greene books. She approaches astrology from a psychological and mythological point of view, which is very enlightening. Another fave of mine is Stephen Arroyo. There are so many brilliant and perceptive astrological writers that it’s hard to keep up.
Yes, I have a computer program from Astrolabe, it’s called Solar Fire. Without it, I’d have to go back to doing charts by hand, which I did for a long time. But with this program, I can look at transits, progressions, solar arcs, tertiary progressions, asteroids, you name it, with the push of a button. I guess I’m spoiled now. It’s easy to get caught up in all the technology, but I remind myself to always stick with the basics: the shape of the chart, the elements, the natal aspects. If you really absorb that then it’s easier to predict a person’s response to any current dilemmas. Who was it who said, “Character is destiny?” I’m going blank on her name right now. Shame on me!
Did you know when you started writing your mysteries that you wanted your detective to be an astrologer?
Sunny: It wasn’t really my decision. I was an undercover narcotics secretary. Looking at phone records, we discovered that our suspect was calling the 1-800 astrology hotline. The detective knew I did astrology, and it was his bright idea to have me do a fake horoscope on him, and then we would put it in his mailbox. I refused. I felt if it came out in court it would be obstruction of justice. But, since I had his birthday and all the members of his gang, I did it anyway. Just for me. Then I thought it would make a good mystery. They wouldn’t put my photo on the back of the cover because they were afraid he might kill me.
As for the child, I saw some sort of darkness around him and just felt I needed to step in. I’ve come across that with many people, but don’t always volunteer my services.
Along with the astrology knowledge, do you also have a bit of ESP or psychic ability?
Connie: Probably a really good idea not to put your photo on the book cover. That would make me nervous too! But such a wonderful pathway into inventing an astrologer protagonist!
It’s funny you should ask about psychic abilities. I believe we’re all born with talents, but the day to day world, or families, or school systems don’t encourage it, maybe even beat it out of us. Several years ago in San Francisco I went to see a well-known psychic who had come to town and was doing readings at the old bookstore on Sutter Street. I think that store’s gone now, sadly. She said, “Oh, my, you’re clairvoyant and clairaudient, but you’ve forgotten.” It was the last thing I expected to hear, but it sunk in. After that, I remembered an episode with my mother.
I was a little kid, maybe five years old, and repeated a conversation that happened between two other people. She was completely shocked, I could tell by her reaction. I think she thought I had somehow listened in to a phone conversation. She demanded to know where I had heard this. I told her very innocently that I had heard it in my room (i.e., I was in my room and heard it in my head.) I think my mother was very freaked out about it and never brought it up again. Things like that squelch all kids, and they learn to ignore their insights. The woman in San Francisco then said, “You’ll remember more and more, and it will come back to you.” I think she was right because it does happen occasionally. I’ve picked up on conversations when there’s some emotional heat and maybe concern me or someone I know. We are all like little antennas, aren’t we? Just have to learn to use it!
My protagonist, Julia, is just an astrologer. But her favorite place to visit and hang out is The Mystic Eye in North Beach, so it gives me an opportunity to invent characters who are psychics, Wiccans, Tarot readers, and even a past-life regression hypnotist.
Does Christie Bristol have pals in the occult world? Or people she can talk to about her abilities?
Sunny: No, she keeps it very private. She’s a wallflower by choice and is embarrassed with this ability.
I take a lot from my own experience. In my family, psychic ability runs through my mother’s line. My sisters all have it. In the book, Christy communicates with her sister, Celeste (a nun) from California to Illinois, and sometimes her Grandma Good butts in at inappropriate times.
How much astrology do you do now?
Connie: Not as much as I’d like. Right now, the book on my desk is “Horoscopes of the U.S. – States and Cities.” Given all the craziness in D.C. right now, I decided to have a look at the U.S. chart. The Gemini rising one seems to be one everyone agrees on. But there are so many other things I need to do first, I haven’t gotten to it yet. Since I started writing my first series, the Soup Lover’s Mysteries and now the Zodiac Mysteries, I have too little time to indulge in fun things.
My biggest astrological task is creating believable charts for my murderers and murder victims. I’ve tried to be very careful in the Zodiac Mysteries, just enough astrology to give the story flavor and texture, but not so much that it’s heavy-handed or overwhelmingly confusing. Julia solves the crimes using astrology, so any mention of a natal chart or a transit or an eclipse has to also work for a reader who is very knowledgeable on the subject.
Are you familiar with the Phryne Fisher series that’s been airing on PBS? It’s based on the Kerry Greenwood books, which I haven’t read, but would love to. Phryne has a website that displays her natal chart. I was wondering if you’ve set one up for Christie?
Sunny: I have charted Christie. I never give out the birthdates, I don’t want people doing their own charts of my characters. One astrologer wrote me to tell me I had it all wrong. I told her to write her own book.
I’ve always felt we get to the same place by different methods. Palm reading, tarot, whatever gets you to the next level. Have you experimented with other forms of occult?
Connie: Oh that’s funny! I received a comment like that once too! Your response was perfect.
I can’t say I’ve seriously explored other occult avenues, although I have read books on various topics. And years ago, I studied Tarot and did my best to use it. I’m not sure it told me anything I didn’t already know in my heart though.
A psychic once told me that Tarot, palm reading, scrying, tea leaf reading, etc. are all just keys to open the door to natural abilities, to accessing what I’ve heard called “the deep mind,” a state of being in which you can exert your will outward but receive information in return. Governments, particularly the Soviets, have devoted a lot of time and energy to exploring psychic abilities of all sorts—remote viewing for example. Perhaps we’ve done the same here. Who knows?
One area of the paranormal that I find fascinating is psychometry. Holding an item that belongs to someone else and picking up information or images because that object has absorbed energy from the person who used it. Just because no one has come up with a scientific explanation for these kinds of leaps, doesn’t mean they don’t have validity. If we only use about one-fifth of our brain, maybe pursuing these studies open up the other four-fifths of our brain cells?
As for astrology, once the chart has been set up and studied and notes made, it’s important to step back and just absorb it, to see the patterns and the flow of energy, apart from all the technicalities.
I don’t want you to give anything away, but can you tell me what it is in her natal chart that makes Christie shy and a wallflower? Yet she’s courageous and solves crimes in spite of that.
Sunny: Well, for starters, I put her in a sign that I personally don’t like. And, she does irritate me. She’s fussy about housework, pretty grumpy, and doesn’t take much time primping or making an effort. Having grown up as a child connected to the military, she’s been moving around all her life. But, she made the choice not to go to college and hides from the world. She just feels “different.” It’s astrology that pulls her out of her comfort zone. It pushes her into situations she’d rather not deal with. And even when she dives in, she resents having to be “heroic.”
I was told this would not fly with readers. But, I don’t know any high-powered women, any fashionistas, any women with jobs like lawyer, doctor, PI, or rich, beautiful women. I write about the women I worked with in law enforcement. Readers did relate. With every book, Christie expands. She gets more confidence. She takes more time with grooming. She’s got a boyfriend.
So, I wouldn’t say it’s anything in her chart. I think it’s cosmic forces that lures her into situations where she doesn’t have a choice. Even though she drags her feet and is reluctant to get involved, she does realize people do need her help.
Who are your side characters, and how did you construct them?
Connie: Oh that must have been hard to do, Sunny, giving Christie a sun sign you’re not crazy about. (I guess we all have our favorites, right?) Let me guess, she’s shy and fussy? Virgo? Sorry, I can’t remember her sign from your books, I guess I was just too focused on the mystery!
But I think you’re correct. Readers must be able to relate to or identify with a protagonist. Otherwise, who are they rooting for? There’s nothing more boring than a “perfect” character. It’s important that he or she have vulnerabilities and flaws or “ghosts” in their past even.
As for my other characters, some are drawn from people I have known and some have just popped into my head. Julia’s a Sagittarian, but she’s introspective, a bit of a lone wolf. Julia was orphaned at a young age and raised by her grandmother. San Francisco is a multi-cultural city, so I invented Kuan, a Chinese acupuncturist, who’s an old friend of her grandmother (and now deceased) grandfather. Their connections go way back, in fact, I’m mulling over a story that has roots in the past and delves into their friendship. Plus North Beach is a neighborhood where different cultures crash into each other, Chinese and Italian for the most part, plus many others. Julia considers Kuan her surrogate grandfather. He’s someone she can really talk to, and he serves as a “Yoda” type figure in the books.
The denizens of the Mystic Eye–Wiccans, psychics, regression hypnotists–are all pretty much based on some very talented people I’ve known. Julia’s not psychic, but her work involves her in the occult world, so of course, she would rub shoulders with all paranormal professions. I believe we all have hundreds of characters in the gallery of our minds, and if we give them a chance, they have lots to say.
I really envy you your background in law enforcement. It’s such a plus for a crime writer, and I do wish I were better educated in that department. Have Christie’s adventures all come from cases you’ve known?
Sunny: There’s some aspect of cases in all of my books. The first one, “Fools Rush In,” was written while the case was happening. The second one, “Where Angels Fear,” is based on a case where I’d received info on a sex club from a snitch. I handed it over to Vice but actually wanted to go in to “flesh” out my novel. My captain said I could if I went undercover with a detective as an interested couple. I told him they didn’t pay me enough. That scene is in the book. “A Snitch In Time” is based on a place up in the Sierra Nevada foothills, a very strange little town. Much of it is true, just not the murder plot.
Since I’ve been out of law enforcement I’m out of touch. I can still go back and get plots from old cases plus we have some strange murders in this area. I do miss the lingo among deputies and wish I’d kept a notebook, but it changes rapidly.
Yes, working in law enforcement makes it easier to write the books. I couldn’t think up the things I’ve seen and done. I’m also glad I took journalism in college instead of becoming an English major. People say it shows in my writing.
What got you into the mystery genre? Have you always wanted to write mysteries?
Connie: That’s fantastic that you had that background, Sunny. It lends credence to any ‘cop’ scenes. I admire Michael Connelly’s books for that reason. To answer your question, I never ever considered being a writer. My first love from the time I was little was acting, even before I knew it was a profession. I did children’s theatre on the east coast, and then years later, after college, I got back into it in a serious way, eventually working mostly in television. Of course, I always had a straight job to make ends meet. A lot of people have the idea that that’s somehow glamorous or exciting, but trust me, it’s not. I fell in love with the craft, but the actual work can be arduous and dull. Long hours to shoot a few minutes.
I’ve always been a huge mystery and thriller fan and for a long time had mulled over the idea of writing a mystery myself. I was working on a mini-series in which I had a small part, and it was a long day, plus 105 degrees in a parking lot in Hollywood. I realized I couldn’t wait for the day to be over. I wanted to go home and start working on my first mystery book. I had no thought of writing a screenplay because I had known so many friends whose ideas or scripts had been stolen. The idea of writing a book, something that was mine, was very appealing.
In my local chapter of MWA and Sisters in Crime, there are lots of former actors and screenwriters, who, like me, probably became creatively frustrated with the business. In a way, I look at it as the same job, really. We’re entertainers first and foremost. The good part was all that training really helped me as a writer. Writing is hard, but I think I would have had to struggle a lot more had I not had that background.
What are your plans for Christie now? Are you plotting her next investigation? And I’m intrigued by your remark about strange murders in your area. Can you talk about any of that?
Sunny: I’ve actually written about some of the local murders in short stories. The first one I did transcription of the jailhouse conversation was someone we tagged the Ditchbank Killer. The way we actually solved the case was a fluke. The next one was a man who killed and buried his wife in the foothills, reported her missing, and moved to L.A. We accidentally found the body years later and identified it through acrylic fingernails. There’s more, but the truth is, I don’t have the imagination to make this stuff up.
I always wanted to be a writer and nothing else since the age of 8. My preference is journalism. Michael Connelly started out on the L.A. Times. When the newspaper I wrote for wouldn’t pay me the same wage as the men (I was the token woman writer) and then shut down, I moved on to fiction. Writing short stories was good training for writing novels. Plus, I won a lot of awards and that motivated me.
One of the things I try to do is introduce a new use for astrology. In the first book, it keeps Christie alive. In the second book it helps her find a missing person. The third book I tried to see if I could do a reverse horoscope, that’s given the traits of the killer and working backwards through a process of elimination. The next book takes Christy to Mexico to find her ex-boyfriend’s uncle. My goal is to show astrology is an “international” language since it’s done with numbers and signs.
Do you have an alternate agenda for your books?
Connie: What a unique way to approach each book! I love it! In my case, I’ve written Julia’s stories as traditional mysteries or whodunits. She never intends to be a crime-solver, but between her clients and her friends, and the circumstances she finds herself in, she becomes involved in the crime and invariably ends up solving that crime through astrology. In “The Madness of Mercury” an elderly woman has been enticed into a dangerous situation. Julia knows the woman’s life is at risk because of a Pluto transit, and it becomes even more immediate due to an impending eclipse that will affect the woman’s chart.
I always set up charts that are important to the story so I can be true to the astrological facts. If I need a character with a drug problem for example, or a middle-aged man going through a divorce, I want to pick a birth date that will make sense. I guess that’s doing reverse astrology, in a way. Some readers may know very little about astrology and could care less, but others are very well-versed, so I try not to make any mistakes. These are first and foremost mysteries, but because Julia’s an astrologer, I want her to always use astrology to solve the crime.
All this talk of setting up charts reminds me of an article I read years ago, wish I could remember where, but the author had researched connections between murderers and victims. Specifically, connections in the two charts between Mars and Pluto. Have you ever had a chance to explore the synastry of some of your true crime perpetrators?
Sunny: That’s never occurred to me, but I might give it a shot in the future. I never reveal the birthdates to the reader.
Has a horoscope ever changed the direction of the plot?
Connie: Hmmm…let me think. I’ve certainly changed plots when I’ve had a better idea, but not because of a horoscope. I try to choose a birth date and chart based on the crime, or someone’s role in it. One example is a character in “All Signs Point to Murder” which is out this month. Julia knows this woman is involved in an intense love affair, but no one seems to know who her lover is. So I picked a chart with lots of impulsive Sagittarian stuff and a Pluto transit to her Venus, lots of fifth house connections. So, short answer, no.
I start with the crime or murder and work backwards. I may not mention the actual birth date or more details of the exact chart, but just the aspects or transits relevant to that character. It’s enough that I know what the chart looks like, so if I have to refer to it later in the book, I don’t make mistakes. I have a tendency to get lost in time warps too. That’s probably my worst bugaboo or tendency. So now I make a detailed outline of days and times and events. It’s embarrassing when an editor says, “But didn’t that happen on Tuesday?”
Has that ever happened to you? Is there one thing about planning a book that trips you up? Something you know you have to watch for? (I hope you don’t mind that I’m asking that question. LOL!)
Sunny: Two things have tripped me up.
I am a linear writer. However, in “A Snitch In Time,” I wrote the major scenes assuming they would be there when it was time to insert them. Didn’t happen. In fact, by the time I got to them, the plot had changed. I’ll never try to shortcut again.
As a trained journalist, I’m used to not using much description. Now I write the five senses and then think of as many words as I can to describe a scene. What does Christy see in this scene? What does she smell? Taste? Hear? It makes me slow down and put myself in the scene. I think every author should do this. Oh, and make yourself take breaks every 45 minutes. You won’t lose your momentum, you will actually come back with richer ideas.
Have any strange things that show up on the horoscopes in the book that surprised you or incidents that happened after the book came out?
Connie: I can’t really say I’ve had any surprises, although I do love to be surprised. I’ve usually managed to finesse a chart so it lines up with the plot and or murderer. I like to use hard Pluto, Saturn, or Neptune aspects to a personal planet or planets if I’m trying to create someone really bad. And, of course, lots of people have those aspects who are not evil and are actually lovely people, perhaps just suffered a bit more than average.
But I have to say I am fascinated more by the ordinary person who commits an extraordinary crime. What forces have pushed them to the brink? A murderer doesn’t necessarily have to be unsympathetic to a reader. Those gray areas leave room for a lot of depth.
I agree with you about using senses, I’ve come across that in my reading too, and really try to be conscious of that. In fact, it’s a classic Stanislavski sense memory acting exercise. The more detailed and vivid a memory can be recalled in all its detail, the more intense and real are the emotions that come to light and are experienced again. That’s true also of setting, I think. Ann Cleeves in her Shetland books does a wonderful job with atmosphere and setting — the sea, the birds, the place seems to come to life. I wanted to choose San Francisco for the Zodiac Mysteries because the city has so many moods: wind, fog, cold, the smell of the ocean.
Which natural elements do you like to choose to evoke the Central Valley?
Sunny: Well, many people think the San Joaquin Valley is boring. We’re not as sophisticated as San Francisco, Los Angeles, or San Diego. Culture, not so much. We have little to offer tourists except Yosemite. We can go up to 112 in the summer, deadly fog in the winter.
Fresno is the hub and the small farm towns surrounding it were developed by different nationalities: Swedish, German, Armenian, Chinese, Mexican, Dust bowl people. My town is Portuguese, and recently, Hmongs have come to the Valley. Agriculture dictates everything. I call the landscape “cranky” because it’s not necessarily pretty. But, I like to look at the crops and the fact that there’s wide spaces between towns.
I describe all of this in the books. In fact, the environment is another character. Excerpt from “Fools Rush In:” “The temperature topped 105 degrees for the 12th day in a row. The San Joaquin Valley was a pressure cooker, surrounded by mountains that pushed the heat back onto the flatlands until tempers exploded. Whenever the thermometer skyrocketed past 100, it seemed to ignite the worst in people. There were more Assault With a Deadly Weapon reports in the past two weeks than Christy had seen all year as people went after each other with knives, guns, and whatever else they got their hands on. Crimes of summer were crimes of passion and hate, all too often escalating to PC 187–Murder.”
Do you think your book set in San Francisco contributes to the types of crimes that are committed? Or, could they occur anywhere?
Connie: I remember that phrase, Sunny ~ it’s terrific! Of course that type of behavior can be found in urban areas too, given enough heat. Los Angeles and the San Fernando Valley can get just as hot. The highest temperature I remember in the Valley was 124, and that was on a day when we were moving house! Dreadful. Hotter than Baghdad probably. On the city side of the mountains, there’s at least a sea breeze which keeps the city a little cooler.
The crime(s) in the Zodiac mysteries are pretty universal and could occur anywhere. The religious cult in The Madness of Mercury that targets the wealthy and the elderly or the man who shot a family member in All Signs Point to Murder. Yup, probably anywhere, and true crimes are often stranger than fiction. What San Francisco offers is a variety of scenery — brilliant sunshine and wind, views from hills, and hidden stairways and mysterious alleyways in fog. Every place has an essence of its own. LA is considered the capital of noir, but I’m not exactly sure why. It’s such a hot, dusty, and intensely sun bleached place.
You mentioned Christie’s traveling to Mexico to search for a missing man. How much do you think the climate will change and/or affect her?
Sunny: Well, now that you mention it, I might give Christy a break and let her go on the coast a bit. But, she will be going inland eventually, and the weather will be much like the Valley.
What parts of your own life and character do you give to your protagonist?
Connie: Julia’s a Sagittarian, like me. And I probably chose that Sun sign for her mostly because I understand it well. In spite of losing her fiancé and the life she had planned, she remains optimistic, if still grieving, and she’s a risk taker and impulsive. She’s not foolishly reckless, but she’ll take risks to save someone she believes is in danger. I wish I were as courageous as Julia.
Julia’s an orphan. Her parents were killed when she was young, so she lives with a sense of not quite belonging, even though she has her grandmother and close friends. I was an only child, so I can relate to that, plus I wanted to keep Julia a bit of a lone wolf, free to solve crimes and not be hampered by having to consider a partner (at least for now).
Sunny ~ happy writing and happy charting. It’s been delightful to be able to share experiences with you!
To enter to win a copy of All Signs Point to Murder, simply email KRL at krlcontests@gmail[dot]com by replacing the [dot] with a period, and with the subject line “signs,” or comment on this article. A winner will be chosen August 26, 2017. U.S. residents only. If entering via email please include your mailing address, and if via comment please include your email address.
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Disclosure: This post contains links to an affiliate program, for which we receive a few cents if you make purchases using those links. KRL also receives free copies of most of the books that it reviews, that are provided in exchange for an honest review of the book.