Friday, July 5, 2013

Featured Author: Jacqueline Lynch

I'm happy to feature another cozy mystery today. This one is Cadmium Yellow, Blood Red, by Jacqueline Lynch.

About the book:  

A post-World War II “cozy” mystery about a museum heist, a missing child, a murder, a recent ex-con and an even more recent widow. In Hartford, Connecticut, 1949, Juliet Van Allen, a museum administrator, discovers that her artist husband is having an affair with another woman. Elmer Vartanian, recently released from prison for a museum robbery, is coerced into helping scout the museum for a heist by a gang that has kidnapped his daughter. Juliet’s husband is found murdered. Elmer signs on as her alibi in exchange for something he wants. Together, dogged by the scandal-monger newsman, the shrewd police detective, and scrutinized by the even more judgmental eye of Hartford’s elite, the rich widow and the ex-con try to outrun them all in a 1948 Lincoln Cosmopolitan, in world where Modern Art meets old-fashioned murder.

Interview with Jacqueline Lynch:

How long have you been writing, and how did you start? 

I wrote as a child for fun, but I started getting paid for my work over thirty years ago in high school when I wrote for the local weekly newspaper. Over the years, I worked a succession of assignments as a staff newspaper/magazine writer/editor, and later freelance. Later I branched out into plays and novels.

How did you create the plot for this book

Like most novels, it starts out when you’re innocently washing the dishes or weeding the garden and suddenly a thought pops into your head: What if? What if an art museum heist was interrupted by the heiress to a fortune whose artist husband was just murdered? You rinse the plate and take it from there.

Do you outline, write by the seat of your pants, or let your characters tell you what to write? 

It depends on what I’m writing. I work on a number of projects simultaneously, which include non-fiction historical writing, as well as plays. For those two, detailed outlining is a must. For this cozy mystery series, I outline very lightly and then most of it is seat of the pants writing.

Did you have any say in your cover art?

Since this series is self-published, I have total control over the art, but I relinquish that to a wonderful artist named Casey Koester, who comes up with terrific designs in the vector graphic style. I wanted something distinctive, and something to reflect on not only the art world of the story, but to bring to mind those great old 1940s pulp novel covers—with a modern twist. I love her covers, and I can’t wait to see the next one.

Have you ever bought any books just for the cover?

I don’t think I’ve ever brought any book just for the cover, but a great cover certainly makes you examine the book more closely. 

What do you do to market your book? 

I’ve posted information on my two blogs: Another Old Movie Blog, and New England Travels, Facebook, Twitter, sold paperback copies at book signings. I’ve also delivered talks to historical societies, women’s clubs, and libraries on my books. I’ve recently started a Pinterest page specifically dedicated to the Double V Mystery series. Cadmium Yellow, Blood Red is the first book in this series, and on this page you can see images of the locations where the stories take place in New England, and you can even get a look at Juliet’s car, a Lincoln Cosmopolitan in some really swell old illustrated advertisements.  I’m also looking forward to connecting with new readers through your blog.

Do you have imaginary friends? When do they talk to you?

I used to have an imaginary friend when I was a child, but we weren’t really best friends; he was just my colleague. We would solve crimes together. He was my stupid sidekick. I needed to have an imaginary stupid sidekick because I didn’t know any real people who were stupider than me. He had a wife and two children: a boy and a girl. They were all pretty homely. But nice, simple people. They lived in a trailer and ate Twinkies for supper, and sometimes they’d have me over for dinner. But that was a long time ago. I never hear from him anymore. I think he retired to Florida. You’d think he’d send a postcard, or one of those family newsletters on the holidays. 

When you start a new book, do you know what the entire cast will be? 

I always think I know who the entire cast will be, but then after a chapter or two new people come through the door. There’s not much you can do but welcome them and get them something to eat.

I’m constantly on the lookout for new names. How do you name your characters? 

The two principal characters, partners in the stories, are Juliet and Elmer. I like both names for their irony. “Juliet” represents something innocent, yet precocious, a romantic ideal unattainable for us—mainly because Shakespeare killed his Juliet. My Juliet is also precious, not really innocent—she’s pretty street savvy for a ladylike heiress, but she is romantically unattainable for Elmer. At least for now.

Elmer is a cool, street-smart, ex-con who could be a romantic hero except for that name.  That’s what I love about it. It doesn’t really fit him. Cool guys are always given cool names in books. Elmer’s got this funny name to live down.

What song would you pick to go with your book? 

"I’m a Fool to Want You," sung by Jennie Smith. Sinatra, Billie Holiday, Peggy Lee and others all covered the song, but Jennie Smith’s version is the one I hear for this book.  I was thinking about the plot of the book one day while in the car, it was raining – a good Film Noir pelting of rain – and this song was playing on my car CD player. 

Which author would you most like to invite to dinner?

I’d like to invite Jane Austen to an American Thanksgiving dinner because I’d love her conversation, and because I’d love to see her put it in her next book, which I’m pretty sure she would. You can come over, too. Bring pie.

Ooh, I love pie! What book are you currently reading and in what format (e-book/paperback/hardcover)?

I’m reading Chain of Fools by Trav S.D. in paperback. It’s a history of silent comedy stars that I will review on my blogs. He’s a terrific writer, and I’m a fan of his blog, especially his tales of vaudeville days.

Name one thing you couldn’t live without.

Peanut butter.

Would you rather work in a library or a bookstore? 

I worked in a library part-time when I was a teenager and I enjoyed it very much.  Bookstores are libraries are still my favorite places.

You won the lottery. What’s the first thing you would buy?

Milk. I just noticed I’m out.

Do you ever get writer’s block?

Not really. I work on so many projects simultaneously, that if I get stuck on one, I just tinker with another project for a while and bring that along. Or I clean the bathroom. 

What do you like to do when you’re not writing?

I like to watch old movies. But then I end up blogging about them on Another Old Movie Blog, so I guess that’s out. I like to travel, but if it’s travel in New England, it ends up on my New England Travels blog. A lot of what I do ends up in writing somewhere along the way. It’s how I digest thoughts and experiences.

What are you working on now?

Dismount and Murder, the third book in the Double V Mystery series, and a nonfiction book on a 19th century sculptor and bronze founder, and another historical novel. I’m also trying to finish a two-act comedy play that’s lying around here somewhere. Double V, incidentally, comes from Juliet’s and Elmer’s surnames: Van Allen and Vartanian.

Thank you very much for the opportunity to visit your blog and chat. I like what you’ve done with the place.

Thank you so much! It's been a pleasure having you here. Stop by again soon! And bring Elmer and Juliet.

Except from Cadmium Yellow, Blood Red

“The last spring of the 1940s.”

Juliet said it out loud this time, with equal parts anticipation and regret. Drumming slender white-gloved fingers on the steering wheel as she waited for the light to turn green, giving it her warmest smile as a thank you, she made a left-hand turn onto Asylum Street.

Past the fashionable Bond Hotel, she stomped her brake hard, with heart-pounding, if momentary, panic on discovering the large and dirty tailgate of the Hampden Ale truck in front of her. “You Get More Out of Hampden.”

Stopping just in time, nearly getting more out of Hampden than she wanted, she chuckled a mea culpa at the motto when the flow of traffic resumed, given a reprieve by still being alive.

Juliet sometimes looked for signposts in her life, more supernatural than what was normally found on beer truck advertising or cooperative traffic lights, and invented them when they were not really there. Only dimly aware of this trait, she would have balked had someone accused her of needing some existential hand-holding. Proud and somewhat vain about her independent streak, nevertheless a vague sense of being imprisoned gnawed at her lately.

Perhaps it was her approaching thirtieth birthday, though Juliet told herself she did not care.

Making love on her free afternoon was all she cared about right now.

She left the car for the parking attendant and shot a glance at the upper floor of the apartment building. Kurt was not expecting her, but she knew he preferred surprises.
Hartford, Connecticut breathed easy, in its own self-superior way, and the sun-warmed sidewalk, flecked with the reddish droppings of buds from the maple trees with their tentative crop of tiny new leaves, seemed to indicate that the winter landscape had all been a mirage.

The trees in front of their apartment house were something that she would have painted. But Kurt would dismiss the idea, with derisive laughter, as a Norman Rockwell Saturday Evening Post cover, and move onto deeper subjects in his conversation and in his art. Juliet entered the apartment house lobby. Mr. Percy, the desk manager with the paunch and the jet-black dyed fringe of hair around his bald head said good afternoon. She would have painted Mr. Percy, too, if only for the novelty of his dyed fringe of hair. When she joked about it to Kurt, he suggested with his own peculiar effortless sarcasm that she ask Mr. Percy to model for her nude.

Mr. Percy looked up at her smiling, as if pleasantly surprised, on cue. Juliet stifled a chuckle, invariably reminded of Kurt’s nude remark, which is all she thought of now whenever she saw Mr. Percy.

The officious desk manager, unaware of her comic fantasies, certainly was surprised, for she usually worked until at least six, sometimes later. It was only four o'clock. Juliet considered announcing she had come home early to make love with her husband, but Mr. Percy was just too easy to fluster. She wondered, with what Kurt might say was disingenuous flippancy, if it mightn’t kill him.

Juliet took the elevator to the fourth floor apartment. The elevator operator, a tall, thin, young black man about twenty named Tommy also gave her a somewhat smile of unexpected pleasure. She wondered if this was indicative of a very well-trained and polite staff or if she really had been so hidebound in her habits. And if anybody, actually, could be that pleased to see her. She hoped Kurt would be.

“Did you take your car off the blocks, yet, Tommy?”

He caught her eye with a conspirator’s look.

“This weekend. I can’t wait.”

“I’m surprised you’ve been stalling. Winter’s got to be over by now.”

“You can stop teasing me. I needed a tire.”

Tommy brought her to her floor. When the doors opened, he wished her a good afternoon.
“Thank you, Tommy.” Her footsteps echoed in the empty hall, and she touched the key to the keyhole.

She opened the door quietly, with no shouts of greeting. Surprising him was one thing, disturbing his work was another.

Juliet hoped that Kurt was continuing with the series on the Modern Woman. She put her keys in her purse and placed her purse down on the credenza against the wall, above which there was a mirror here in the alcove before the living room. A half wall with a wrought iron railing, which always made the person looking through the balusters seem as if he were in prison, separated the alcove from the living room. She turned and looked into the mirror to remove her hat, a soft, small peach-colored cap that matched her suit and clung to the crown of her light brown hair. She lifted her arms to reach for the hatpin with her right hand and hold her hat with her left, when her eyes were diverted by the flickered reflection of activity in the living room behind her.

She became only then just aware of a low muffled voice or more like a series of human noises. Lowering her arms slowly, pivoting with a gracefulness as if it had been rehearsed, Juliet looked through the thin, ironwork balustrade into the living room.

She noticed for the first time that the furniture was pushed aside. The two couches were pulled away from each other and the coffee table had been moved against one of them, leaving a large clear area in front of the fireplace. She gripped the wrought iron bars like a prisoner in jail, stood on tiptoe and pulled herself up a couple inches and looked down over one of the couches. Of the two naked people vigorously making love on a blanket on the living room floor, she could recognize Kurt, but not the woman whose face was hidden.

About the author: 

Jacqueline T. Lynch’s novels are available as ebooks and in print. Several of her plays have been published and produced around the U.S., Canada, and one of which, Child’s Play, was translated into Dutch and performed several times in the Netherlands. Her drama One Good Turn premiered as a winner of the 2011 Northern Kentucky University Y.E.S. Festival. Her one-act comedy In Memory of Trixie Gazelle was chosen as a winner in the 2010 Nor’Eastern Playwright’s Showcase of the Vermont Actors’ Repertory Theatre in Rutland, Vermont. She has published articles and short fiction in regional and national publications, including the anthology 60 Seconds to Shine: 161 Monologues from Literature (Smith & Kraus, 2007), North & South, Civil War Magazine, History Magazine. She writes Another Old Movie Blog and New England Travels blog. A native New Englander, she lives in Massachusetts.

Connect with Jacqueline:
Website | Another Old Movie Blog | New England Travels Blog | Facebook | Goodreads | Twitter |

Buy the book:
Amazon | Barnes & Noble | Pinterest and Pinterest Specifically for the Double V Mysteries – here you can see images and locations that are mentioned in my mystery novels (including what a Lincoln Cosmopolitan looks like)