I’m delighted today to take my turn on the blog tour for Her Last Breath by J.A. (Joyce) Schneider. Released on October 21st, this is the second psychological thriller, after Fear Dreams, featuring highly intuitive NYPD detective Kerri Blasco, and can be purchased here. You may have seen my spotlight feature last month, with an extract from the book and sharing the totally gorgeous cover – you can catch up with it again here. I do wish I could have read this one – that extract totally hooked me in, as did the description:
A chilling psychological thriller about a woman caught between two men…
Mari Gill wakes to horror in a strange apartment next to a murdered man. Protesting her innocence, she feels torn between her husband, a successful defense attorney, and a mysterious, kind man who wants to help. Can she trust either of them – or even her closest friends? Detective Kerri Blasco, investigating, battles her police bosses believing that Mari is innocent…but is she?
I’m so sorry I can’t bring you a review, but I am really thrilled to welcome author J.A. Schneider to Being Anne with an excellent guest post. Is writing fiction the best self analysis?
Before starting to write fiction, I thought I knew myself pretty well.
The surprise came when I got a bit better at writing, and discovered that going deeper and deeper into my characters involved going deeper into myself. Whoa – what’s this? I’d think. Where did THAT come from?
Clearly, it came from me. Where else? Huh?
What most of us write really does come from deep in our psyches. “Write what you know,” goes the old adage – but it’s really a puzzle with many layers like an onion. Sure, you can base your writing on your professional background, or the fact that you know small town life because you grew up in one, or you know dysfunctional families because – ditto – you grew up in one…but I call all that the “canvas” that holds the painting.
And that painting can be from a motel wall, or Monet’s thousand brush strokes to show dappled light under lily pads.
My earliest attempts were, to use the polite term, derivative: How did so-and-so the Best Seller do it? I imitated, but I learned the basics of how to write, which may not be such a bad thing. Baby steps and all that, I hear similar stories from other authors.
(I should mention that from childhood I’d always been a reader: that probably helped the learning.)
So I wrote and wrote. Got rejections, got disappointed, gave up, tried again…the usual story. And then things started to improve. I wrote a six-book medical thriller series which involves doctors and cops…a duo idea which I still love since I’ve actually seen ER physicians try to help detectives find justice for victims of assault and murder.
The series did fine…two young doctors – one of them a crack shot – helped the police and loathed the fact that too many bad guys slip through the system to harm again. The young female physician, Jill Raney, usually led the charge and pulled her boss, senior resident David Levine, into the investigation, and soon the exhausted, driven pair were “going where cops couldn’t” – “No warrant? No problem!” – acting as detectives on their own, and helping. Becoming great friends, in fact, with NYPD detectives Kerri Blasco and Alex Brand, who now continue in my new series.
The doctors-&-cops stories are intense, but they’re mainly crime stories with two different kinds of detectives. After the 6th in that series, something started to nag. I wanted to go deeper, into character and psychology and the dark secrets of people we think we know. So I got interested in psychological thrillers. But wanted to keep my cops!
Re-enter Alex Brand and highly intuitive Kerri Blasco, with her rare ability to read people and the language of crime scenes better than her bosses.
Bringing Kerri to the forefront marks a new discovery about myself, because I realized I’d created a new kind of woman and person. Kerri is strong (tough and tender), very smart, and…confident.
In the two psych thrillers I’ve written so far, Fear Dreams and Her Last Breath, the people Kerri investigates aren’t confident: they’re overly sensitive, artistic, Nervous Nellies like I sometimes was.
I love art (like Liddy in Fear Dreams), have had my battles with anxiety (again, like Liddy and also like Mari Gill the, ahem, writer, in Her Last Breath), and both those women get into horrid trouble – Liddy desperate she’s losing her mind, Mari accused of murder.
Then Kerri is called in to investigate. She digs furiously, listens and analyzes, follows her gut as she battles her police bosses.
Kerri is a strong, confident character. She does have her grief and demons, but she only cries – sometimes – at night. By day she can be a loveable goofball who drives too fast and cracks up the squad room with jokes and battles only a little with her irascible Lieutenant Tom Mackey because she also worries about his high blood pressure.
Mainly, she’s strong. Does that mean I’m feeling stronger? Hopefully.
I never could have created Kerri in my early, less confident days. Probably Kerri was always in me. It just took me a while to find her.
Many thanks Joyce – and may Kerri go from strength to strength… and everyone, do follow the other stops on the tour, won’t you?
About the author
J.A. (Joyce Anne) Schneider is a former staffer at Newsweek Magazine, a wife, mom, and reading addict. She loves thrillers…which may seem odd, since she was once a major in French Literature – wonderful but sometimes heavy stuff. Now, for years, she has become increasingly fascinated with medicine, forensic science, and police procedure. Decades of being married to a physician who loves explaining medical concepts and reliving his experiences means there’ll often be medical angles even in “regular” thrillers that she writes. She lives with her family in Connecticut, USA.