by Doward Wilson
This week we have a review of Stain on the Soul by Michele Drier and an interesting interview with Michelle. Details at the end of this post on how to enter to win either an ebook or print copy of Stain on the Soul. We also have a link to order it from Amazon, and from an indie bookstore where a portion goes to help support KRL.
Stain on the Soul: A Stained Glass Mystery by Michele Drier
Review by Doward Wilson
Rosalind (Roz) wants to know who killed her husband, Winston Duke, and why? His murder was an unsolved drive-by shooting in LA. To distance herself from the scene, Roz has moved herself and her internationally-known stained glass window business to a small town on the Oregon coast.
Things seem to be going well, and Roz is adjusting to the changes in her life. She is currently working on a large stained glass window for a new Catholic Cathedral. As she and her rescue dog walk on the beach one morning, her peaceful new life is shattered by flashing lights and sirens. She gathers with her neighbors and watches the body of the man across the street being removed from his house. As she meets and mixes with her new neighbors, she gets involved with the Neighbor Hood Watch Association and finds herself working to solve the murder of her neighbor. Who was this man? No one seems to know.
Roz starts working with a new friend who is an investigative journalist and is also writing a book. As the two of them combine their talents, they start to discover a possible motive for the man’s murder, and it involves Roz’s work for the Catholic Church! Can they solve the mystery of this man and his murder or will the murderer find them first?
This story grabbed me from the first page and didn’t let go until the surprising ending. Roz and all the other characters were well drawn and believable. The murder underlines some of the ugliness of today’s world and will keep you entertained and informed at the same time. I really enjoyed this book and highly recommend it to all mystery readers.
Interview with author Michele Drier:
KRL: How long have you been writing?
Michele: On and off for most of my life. I’ve had a few stints as a journalist with such papers as the San Jose Mercury-News and the Modesto Bee, but I began my first very rough draft of a novel in about 1998.
KRL: When did your first novel come out? What was it called, and would you tell us a little about it?
Michele: After several rewrites and working with a writing coach, my first book, Edited for Death, was published by a small press in 2011. The protagonist is a newspaper editor (go figure!) who uncovers the theft of stolen Nazi art. A young GI stationed in Germany in the waning days of World War II stumbles across a cache of art stolen by the Nazis and picks up a small drawing to take home as a souvenir. It turns out to be a Da Vinci sketch that he can’t get rid of, so it stays hidden in a Gold Rush hotel his family owns for 60 years as he goes on to become a U.S. Senator.
KRL: Have you always written mysteries/suspense? If not, what else have you written?
Michele: I still write mysteries, but I also have a psychological thriller stand-alone and a ten-book paranormal romance series, The Kandesky Vampire Chronicles. These sell well and I even have a small fan club!
KRL: What brought you to choose the setting and characters in your latest book/series?
Michele: I wanted to try my hand at a cozy, so I developed a protag who’s a stained-glass artist. After her husband is killed in a drive-by in Los Angeles, she moves to a small town on the Oregon coast to rebuild her life and gets enmeshed in a murder that involves her in the town in ways she never anticipated. I call it a dark cozy, because the motive for murder is a current moral issue.
KRL: Do you write to entertain or is there something more you want the readers to take away from your work?
Michele: There’s always some underlying cause or issue in my books. Beside stolen Nazi art, the Newspaper Mysteries look at the wine industry in California and the water crisis tunnel project in the Delta. The stand-alone is what happens when Big Pharma steals a medical breakthrough from a small researcher. Even the Kandesky Vampire Chronicles have contemporary political issues as the family lives in Kiev, Ukraine and are trying to keep Russia from encroaching in the EU.
KRL: Do you have a schedule for your writing or just write whenever you can?
Michele: Because of other things (I’m the co-chair for Bouchercon 2020 in Sacramento, teach and do free-lance book editing) I write when I can, but I block out at least three days a week for writing. It’s a glorious week when I don’t have to leave my house for a few days!
KRL: Do you outline? If not, do you have some other interesting way that you keep track of what’s going on, or what needs to happen in your book when you are writing it?
Michele: It’s funny that this has just come up in my critique group. There are six of us and we range from meticulous plotting (outlining every chapter), to story boards for characters and action to absolute pantsers. I’m in that camp. I begin each book knowing who the protag is and what the ultimate outcome will be and not a whole lot else. I do keep a list of the characters, because a lot of them pop up unexpectedly and I need to keep the names straight. When I start to write each day, I reread the last chapter or two to immerse myself in the world I’m creating. It’s like starting on a trip. I know the major roads I’ll take but there are lots of interesting detours along the way. I’ve had a couple of books that even I don’t know the murderer until the last couple of chapters.
KRL: If you had your ideal, what time of day would you prefer to write?
Michele: My best times are roughly 11 a.m. to about 5 p.m. If I have that time uninterrupted – well there’s lunch, snacks, letting the cat in and out, reading email -I can write about 3,000 words a day.
KRL: Did you find it difficult to get published in the beginning?
Michele: Yes, I have a stack of rejections from agents and publishers. I was ecstatic to get a contract from a small press, but it was a less-than stellar experience, so I’ve been Indie publishing ever since.
KRL: Do you have a great rejection/critique or acceptance story you’d like to share?
Michele: Not a specific story, but I had several agents and publishers turn me down while saying they liked my voice and style and loved my language (metaphors, similes) while not feeling they could sell my story.
KRL: Most interesting book signing story-in a bookstore or other venue?
Michele: When I had a launch party for Edited for Death, I made a sort of tea. Open-faced cucumber sandwiches, and platter of “Enigma” cookies (butter cookie dough that I put through a cookie press. They looked like small, tight pretzels.) Biggest crowd I had was ten people. I was still giving bags of frozen Enigma cookies to everyone I knew two years later. Haven’t done that again.
KRL: Future writing goals?
Michele: I’m half-way through the second book in the Stained Glass Mysteries, have a third one plotted, have another two plots for the Newspaper Mysteries, at least one more of the Kandesky Vampire and two more stand alones (at least as this point, though they may turn into series). After Bouchercon, I’m going back to writing two or three books a year.
KRL: Wow that’s a lot. Writing heroes?
Michele: I love the classic British (Sayers, Christie, Marsh, Allingham), Tana French, Kate Atkinson and am crazy for John Sanford, both his Lucas Davenport and Virgil Flowers mysteries. And in non-fiction, any book by Antonia Fraser or Barbara Tuchman.
KRL: What kind of research do you do?
Michele: It depends. I try to begin with some things I have experience with, e.g. newspapers, stained glass. For Labeled for Death I got to spend the day in the Wine Library at US Davis and go into the stacks and touch a loose-leaf book put together in the 1860s on identifying grapes by their leaves. I’ve traveled to Europe a few times, so include places I’ve been to, like the south coast of England in my current WIP. Otherwise, I rely on that great card catalog in the sky, Google. It’s difficult pulling myself away, though. I can follow links until I realize I’ve spent an hour looking at wonderful hotels in France.
KRL: What do you read?
Michele: Pretty much anything I can get my hands on! In fiction I read mysteries, suspense, spy and intrigue, some coming-of-age. I try to read every Nobel writer, the short-listed Booker prize list, the Pulitzer list. I read some best-sellers and books and authors recommended by friends. In non-fiction, I read politics, history, science, some biography.
KRL: Favorite TV or movies?
Michele: My favorite TV is PBS. I use Netflix and Amazon for movies but don’t watch much of the series. In movies, humor, well-written intrigue, pretty much anything with Helen Mirren or Dame Judy Dench, Meryl Streep, historical. I love Casablanca, Lion in Winter, and Mississippi Burning.
KRL: Any advice for aspiring or beginning writers?
Michele: Read, read, read. Know the language. Understand the basics of grammar. Know how to tell a compelling story. And show not tell. And read, read, read.
KRL: What is something people would be surprised to know about you?
Michele: Well, I started college as a chemistry major and if I could do it again, I’d be an archeologist. Also, used to drive in time trials (closed circuit sports car races).
KRL: Website? Twitter? Facebook?
Michele: My website, MicheleDrierAuthor.com, is under reconstruction. My Amazon author page lists all my books, my Twitter handle is @MicheleDrier and my Facebook page is www.facebook.com/michele.drier.
To enter to win either an ebook or print copy of Stain on the Soul (BE SURE TO STATE WHICH YOU PREFER), simply email KRL at krlcontests@gmail[dot]com by replacing the [dot] with a period, and with the subject line “stain” or comment on this article. A winner will be chosen November 16, 2019. U.S. residents only. If entering via email please include your mailing address (so if you win we can get the book sent right out to you), and if via comment please include your email address. You can read our privacy statement here if you like.
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