Today I am privileged to have a special guest on my blog; B A Morton, author of best selling hard boiled crime thriller Mrs Jones and its recently released sequel Molly Brown.
ME: It’s great to have you here Babs. Could you please start by telling us a bit about yourself and how you started writing?
BABS: After a 20yr career in the civil service, my hubby and I sold up and escaped to the country. For the last 5yrs we’ve lived in the Northumberland National Park in a cottage built atop a medieval crypt…the inspiration for my historical trilogy. I keep terriers and chickens and I’m partial to chocolate and Michael Buble’. Although I’ve dabbled with writing for many years I entered the published world via the Yeovil Literary Prize with my first crime novel which was runner up in the 2011 novel category and subsequently accepted for publication. I’ve always loved reading. As a child I lived opposite a library. I would borrow a book a day, read and return the following day, until I’d run out of books. While awaiting new books to arrive I began to scribble my own adventures. As an adult I progressed to crime novels and would say that is my favoured genre. I take my inspiration from the likes of John Connolly, Ian Rankin and Dennis Lehane.
ME: What’s your reaction to the runaway success of your debut novel Mrs Jones?
BABS: Astonished, and immensely pleased that so many people are enjoying it. I had great fun writing it. It’s been described as an action movie in print, pure escapism from the title to the last page.
ME: Although I find it hard to believe that there can be many people left who haven’t read Mrs Jones please could you give a brief plot summary?
BABS: Lizzie, a young British woman arrives in New York to deliver a package. She witnesses a murder and it’s up to Detective Tommy Connell to protect his witness from mobsters and crooked cops. It’s a fast paced story as Lizzie and Tommy are thrown together and run for their lives. Tommy has a past, Lizzie has a secret and the twists and turns keep everyone on their toes. A “will they won’t they” between the central characters seasons the plot with a little romance.
ME: Describe your hero Tommy Connell in five words. Did you base him, at least in part, on anyone you know personally?
BABS: Loyal, impetuous, funny, sexy, incorrigible. Not based on anyone in particular but an amalgam of character traits that help to make him the kind of man you’d trust to get you out of a scrape.
ME: How did you come up with the character of Molly Brown? I think she’s great; a kid who doesn’t talk nineteen to the dozen is my idea of heaven.
BABS: Kids have an uncanny knack of seeing straight through people. They won’t be conned and as such have an untarnished honesty and remarkable resilience. Molly has withdrawn within herself, but she hasn’t given up. Molly’s obsession with the Wizard of Oz runs in parallel with Tommy’s lack of self belief. They both need each other if they have any chance at all of getting home in one piece.
ME: I haven’t yet read the Wildewood Chronicles but the first book was quite popular on Authonomy if I remember rightly. Do you prefer writing historical romance or hard boiled crime thrillers? Which do you find easier?
BABS: Wildewood was born out of a love for the wonderful area where I live. Northumberland is steeped in history and it was far too tempting not to let my imagination run riot. It’s the product of much research and a liberal dose of storytelling, but it still has the fast pace, twisty turny plot and tarnished heroes I love, so essentially, not that different to Mrs Jones and Molly Brown. If I had to choose a favoured genre for writing, I’d have to say crime. I certainly have more WiP’s that are crime related.
ME: So what comes next for Tommy Connell? Will there be a third book in the series or does the end of Molly Brown mean he has to be true to his word and settle down for a quiet life? Personally I can’t see him ever being able to do that.
BABS: The next book in the series, Mr Valentine, picks up the story about six months further on and develops the menacing character of Luther who was introduced at the end of Molly Brown. Tommy is forced once again to face the fact that sometimes, good men are required to do bad things. He has three days to stop a hit man, recover a hostage and deliver a baby!
ME: Can you give us a short passage from either Mrs Jones or Molly Brown that you are especially proud or fond of?
BABS: Tommy Connell may be a little reckless in his pursuit of the truth but no one can question his love for Lizzie. He would do anything for her, but because of his past he believes he will ultimately, lose her, hurt her and basically ruin her life. In this excerpt from Molly Brown, his worst fears are materialised:
The banging on the door woke him. Dragged him kicking and screaming from a nightmare where fear was all he could recall. He kicked at tangled sheets, wiped perspiration from his brow and struggled to his feet. It was still dark out, that murky time just before dawn.
The noise was relentless. He’d dropped the latch the night before, done up all the locks and chains just like he’d promised Lizzie. Now, he couldn’t co-ordinate. His senses confused, the noise, the back taste of fear and broken sleep, all interfering in an essentially straightforward task. He slammed a hand at the door in an effort to shut out the din, so he could think. Four bolts, two locks- where was the damn key?
“Okay, Jeez, I’m coming,” he cursed. “Give me a goddamn minute!”
The banging stopped as suddenly as it had begun and in the subsequent eerie silence Connell became aware of a different sound. A muted sob- the whispered wail of someone so desperate, so alone, that he felt his own throat constrict. His nightmare paled as his fear grew exponentially.
“No – Lizzie! I’m coming. I’m here, babe, hang on.”
When he finally wrenched the door open, she was crouched on the floor. Hugging her knees; rocking on the balls of her feet. She looked up through a curtain of wet curls, her cheeks streaked with tears, her eyes rubbed red. He pulled her to her feet and wrapped his arms tight around her slender frame. She trembled beneath his hands.
“What’s happened? It’s the middle of the goddamn night. Where’s Joe?” He leaned away from her, caught her face gently between his hands. “Lizzie, honey, you’re scaring me. You’ve got to tell me what’s wrong?”
She looked at him and he was stung by the accusation in her eyes.
“You promised me, we were safe.”
He felt it then, a churning deep in his stomach. He dropped his hands, felt the room sway and steadied himself against what he knew was to come.
“What’s happened, Lizzie? Just tell me, honey.”
“They came, after you called…,” she sobbed. The words fractured, forced between desperate gasps for air and normality. “They took Joe and Molly…I tried to stop them. I pleaded with them.” She took a breath, seemed to draw strength from somewhere deep inside. “They said you’d gone too far and now it was time to pay.”
He stared at her, looked through her, past her, and the moment hung. The gulf between them widening in front of his eyes, as if he stood at the edge of a precipice of his own making and the only way forward was down. He re-focused and saw that her face was bruised, her lip swollen. When she raised her hand to shield the bruises from him he saw angry finger marks on her pale wrist. She had fought to protect his son and a child she barely knew and despite her efforts she had failed. His nightmare returned with sudden clarity, the fear, the uncontrollable anger and despair. He could not lose any of them, this couldn’t be the end.
ME: Who would you like to play Tommy Connell in a movie or TV adaptation of your work?
BABS: I think Jeremy Renner (Hurt Locker, The Bourne Legacy) would make a very good Tommy Connell. Tommy does get knocked about a bit so whoever took on the role would need to have a good stunt doubleJ
ME: What are you working on now?
BABS: My current work in progress is an English gothic crime thriller entitled Bedlam. It’s a little different to my usual work. It’s about love and loss and how far a person would go to recover something precious. Things get scary when Detective Joe McNeil brings a murderer’s victim back to life…It’s planned for a summer release.
ME: Thanks very much for visiting my blog today. Please could you give us some book buy and/or blog links so people not familiar with your work can find it?
BABS: Thanks for inviting me to chat about my work, Melanie. It’s been a real pleasure. All my books can be found on Amazon .com and co.uk.