ABOUT THE BOOKAlex O’Hara finally gets a case that will give her bottom line a much needed boost. She might even be able to change her diet from ramen noodles to prime rib. All she has to do is track down a man who’s been missing for over ten years. Piece of cake . . . until an old flame arrives and a mugger roughs her up with orders to back off.
INTERVIEW WITH DIANE BURTON
Diane, how did you come up with the title, The Case of the Bygone Brother?
I wanted something that sounded like a Nancy Drew book, my favorite books as a kid. The reader knows up front this is a mystery. I plan to use an alliterative title in future books.
How would you describe your book in a tweet?
Small town—Big case PI mystery. Find lost brother and make beaucoup bucks. Avoid old flame. The Case of the Bygone Brother by Diane Burton.
Did you have any say in your cover art? What do you think of it?
I sure did have a say. Since I’m self-published and have no artistic talent, I hired a cover artist. Florence Price from The Novel Difference has done three of my covers. She is great to work with. She really listens/reads my mini-synopsis and what I want on the cover. She’s come up with great ideas, too, often better than mine. I love the cover for The Case of the Bygone Brother. You can tell it’s a cozy mystery, not a thriller or dark & dangerous.
What’s your favorite line from a book?
“Last night I dreamt I went to Manderley again.” ~Rebecca by Daphne du Maurier. It evokes so many questions. Where is Manderley? What is it? A city, village, estate? Why did the narrator dream about it? Is this a repeated dream? Why? I loved the book from the first time I read it and each time after.
How do you get to know your characters?
They reveal themselves as I write. I’ll have a basic idea about them then — wham! — my fingers will type something and I’ll think “Where did that come from?” It’s such a great feeling.
Yes it is. When you start a new book, do you know what the entire cast will be?
Never. I know the main characters, of course, and some of the secondary ones. But not everyone. Some characters demand names and others are identified by their occupation: the waiter, the driver, etc. Giving the person a names makes them more important. The story evolves and the characters reveal themselves. With The Case of the Bygone Brother, I use a lot of Dutch names because West Michigan was settled by immigrants from the Netherlands. In fact, I named the title character, Harry Anslyn, after one of my ancestors, Louis Anslyn who fought in the Civil War.
With which of your characters would you most like to be stuck on a deserted island?
Nick Palzetti from Bygone Brother. He has skills! And he’s not bad to look at.
That always helps! Tell us about your favorite scene in the book.
When Nick returns after a long absence and finds Alex lying across the top of a lateral file cabinet trying to retrieve something behind it. He wise-cracks, and when he tries to help her down, she falls on top of him. Years ago, Alex had a giant-size teen crush on him. And now he’s back and finds her as klutzy as ever.
Who are your favorite authors?
Jayne Ann Krentz (aka Jayne Castle & Amanda Quick) — strong plot, intriguing characters. Linda Howard — stories with such emotion that I cry, great characters, and marvelous plot twists. Linnea Sinclair — best science fiction romance around, action/adventure in space. (BTW, I also write sci-fi romance.)
Which author would you most like to invite to dinner, and what would you fix him? Or her.
Madeline L’Engle. I’d ask her how she came up with the idea for A Wrinkle In Time and the rest of the books. I read it to my 6th grade class and to my children. Fascinating. BTW, you can come, too.
Thanks. What book are you currently reading and in what format?
I’m between books right now. I just finished Siren’s Call by Jayne Castle. Love her Rainshadow series, and this one is great. Even when books have other formats, I love reading on my Kindle. I’m supposed to be reading The Prayer Box by Lisa Wingate for my book group. Since it’s in trade paperback (from the library) I haven’t started it yet. Yikes! Book group is next week. I’d better get cracking.
How do you handle criticism of your work?
Poorly. LOL I huff and whine and grouse — at my husband, never the critiquer or my freelance editor. Then I respond very politely “Thanks. I’ll consider that.”
Where’s home for you?
A Lake Michigan resort town, similar to Fair Haven (the fictional setting for The Case of the Bygone Brother) but a lot bigger. After moving many times because of my husband’s job and “power shopping” for a new house as soon as ours sold, we’d have to settle for what was available. This time we had a house built close to our grandchildren.
What three books have you read recently and would recommend?
A Killer Past by Maris Soule that features a 74-year-old heroine who literally kicks the butts of 2 gang members when they try to rob her. She has skills!
No Brakes: On the Wing by Ellen Ann Callahan. Wow. Debut book full of suspense and emotion, fast paced.
Released (Nogiku series, Book2) by S.J. Pajonas. This series is blowing me away. Post-apocalypse with hope.
What do you like to do when you’re not writing?
Watch movies and read. I love to garden, but bad knees make it difficult. Now I “sidewalk supervise” my husband. Quilting, which I’ve neglected. I’m helping my 8-year-old granddaughter learn to sew clothes for herself and her American Girl doll, so maybe I’ll get back to quilting, too.
If you could live anywhere in the world, where would it be?
I’m living right where I want to be, close to family. Unfortunately, only half my family. If money was unlimited (or I sell beaucoup books LOL), we’d live half the year in Michigan and the other half in Arizona with the rest of my family.
What are you working on now?
The next Alex O’Hara novel, The Case of the Fabulous Fiancé. She gets into more trouble again. My plan is to release it in October. I need to do a little more revising on Christmas in Space, a novella to be released in late November. And I’m in the planning stage for the next Outer Rim novel, a science fiction romance. Too many stories, not enough time. LOL
EXCERPT FROM THE CASE OF THE BYGONE BROTHER
She had trouble written all over her.
Like a scene out of The Maltese Falcon, a beautiful woman begs the P.I. for help. Shades of Sam Spade, with a slight difference. The elegantly-dressed woman pounding on my plate glass window was more than twenty years older than me and, even though my name is Alex O’Hara, I’m not male. But I am a PI —O’Hara & Palzetti, Confidential Investigations since 1965. Not that I’ve been around since 1965.
As soon as I unlocked the outer door, the woman burst through, a few maple leaves stuck to her Manolo’s. Frankly, I was surprised she wore only a sweater. She must have been freezing out there. In spite of the fact that it was mid-October, the temp had dipped that afternoon to the low forties. We might even get frost.
“Ms. O’Hara, thank God you’re still here. I was so afraid—” She broke off on a sob. Taking a small, white, lace-edged handkerchief out of her Louis Vitton purse, she dabbed at her eyes.
Now I’m not one to belittle a person’s worries. However, I thought she switched a little too quickly from imperious knocking to damsel in distress.
Damsel? Not quite. I pegged her around fifty-five, give or take a few years, and well-preserved. Even in her Manolo’s, she only came up to my chin. Next to her I felt like a hulking giant. Since I’m five-ten in my socks, I look down on most women. Despite her elaborate up-do, from my angle I could see her roots. A visit to her hairdresser might be in order. But I digress.
“What can I do for you?” I tried not to sneeze from her overpowering perfume. An oriental scent. Shalimar or Opium. I never knew which was which. I tried them on at the perfume counter at Macy’s. That’s the closest I’d ever get to wearing expensive perfumes.
“I need your help.” Her breathy voice reminded me of Marilyn. As in Monroe, not Manson.
Because Pop loved old movies, I became addicted to them. Just like I did with detective novels. I cut my teeth on Nancy Drew, moved on to the likes of Daphne duMaurier and P.D. James before graduating to Dashiell Hammett and Raymond Chandler. I watched Masterpiece Mystery on PBS and every movie Alfred Hitchcock made. In my teens, I watched reruns of Remington Steele. Once, I wore a fedora like Laura’s to work. The Pops laughed so hard I never did again.
I ushered the woman into my office with its mahogany paneling and closed the door. I held out my hand. “As you’ve guessed, I’m Alex O’Hara.” I looked at her expectantly.
She laid her hand in mine. I clasped hers firmly enough to reassure but gently enough not to crush the delicate bones beneath the cold skin.
“My name is Babette Rhodes. Babette Anslyn Rhodes.”
She perched on the visitor’s chair, her back finishing-school straight and knees pressed together. I took my place behind the desk in the big leather chair that had been Pop’s. While she twisted the handkerchief, I stacked the bookkeeping papers and tucked them into the top desk drawer. Once I placed a clean legal pad in front of me, I folded my hands on top ready for her story. A story that could solve my financial problems.
“Ms. O’Hara, I must ask you to keep what I am about to tell you in absolute confidence.”
“Of course.” Hadn’t she see the word confidential on the sign on the door?
“My brother is missing. I must find him.”
ABOUT THE AUTHOR
Diane has been a reader all her life and loves movies, especially action adventure, mysteries, science fiction, and romantic comedy. Castle, Firefly, and NCIS are her favorite TV shows. So is it any wonder that she writes science fiction romance and romantic suspense, both with comedic elements?
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