I've been writing with the amazing and truly astonishingly talented D. Manly for five years now. People ask us all the time how we do it. The answer is, "And we do it. Every night every day, every possible way..."
Sorry, I'm stealing lines from the old R & J Stone song "And We Do It" but it's not far from the truth. We both have regular jobs and must schedule our first love - writing - around family, pets, work, home, friends, etc. I can work late into the night (or early in the morning depending on your point of view) and so can D.J.
Stories go back and forth via email at odd times. We talk on the phone, we laugh, and thank God we rarely argue (I'm knocking wood as I say this), but one thing is certain.
After five years, we can still surprise each other and that's the real key to a satisfying, ongoing writing relationship. When I receive a new chapter from D.J. I admit I'm sometimes wary because D.J. has a fondness for killing off some of my favorite characters.
I sometimes wonder how such a nice person can do so many mean things to harmless characters in a book! When I sent D.J. the opening chapter of The Crimson Cat, our latest joint release for Amber Allure, we'd discussed the idea of a car accident featuring a classic car, and together researched something unusual, to come up with a Crimson Cat, an old 1983 Mercury vehicle.
There was another piece to the puzzle. Setsubun.
I try always to feature fresh subjects and my fondness for Asian culture knows no bounds. When I was invited to my first soybean-throwing ceremony, I found a quirky link to our tale. I simply had to include it. I don't know about other authors, but I find life presents little gifts when I am working on a book. Something unexpected shows up that often fits right into a story.
Setsubun is an annual festival that involves putting on masks and tossing soybeans outside for good luck. I thought the idea was a hoot.
Or is it?
Are there such things as bad demons?
Since this is a mystery and masks, all kinds of masks come into play, I won't give too much away here. I will simply say this. We loved writing this book and as always, D.J. stepped up and blew me away with plot twists I couldn't have predicted.
Here's the synopsis for The Crimson Cat:
When Tomi Hadley and his brother, Ren, make fun of their Japanese-born mom's annual Setsubun bean-throwing celebrations, she's furious. She warns them that their ridicule of her folkloric beliefs could be deadly. As if to prove her words, shortly after leaving her house, the two men are almost killed in a car accident by a hit-and-run driver.
Tomi's whole world collapses. Worried about his brother, whose injuries are severe, Tomi struggles to put the pieces of his life back together. This is nearly impossible, however, since he loses his dream job due to his inability to work, and then there's his mom's insistence that oni, Japanese demons, caused the collision.
But one day, when Tomi sees a man washing his car on the street, he realizes it's the same vehicle that caused the accident—a classic red sports car called a Crimson Cat. And the driver, the surprisingly handsome attorney Dusty Grayson, seems to be a man of hidden depth and many, many secrets...
People often ask me how I come up with some of my ideas. I always say truth is stranger than fiction, because it is. Life is full of mystery and magic.
You just have to be willing to find it.
For an excerpt and/or purchase of The Crimson Cat, please click this link:
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