SCORPIO RISING is about a criminal profiler who uses astrology, palmistry and other forms of divination to solve three seemingly unconnected murders that happen within hours of each other in three different states. The murder victims are a New York City heiress mugged on her way home from a Broadway show, a project leader of a CIA counter-terrorism unit whose car is bombed in Los Alamos, New Mexico, and a dot-com entrepreneur who is killed in a hit-and-run while jogging in San Francisco. Protagonist Axel Crowe is called in by a wealthy client to help investigate the mugging-turned-fatal in New York, but after one day on the job, Crowe uncovers the first clues to what might be a murder conspiracy. And the game is on…
What inspired you to write this particular story?
I’ve long been a serious student of Vedic astrology and palmistry. After years of being in classes watching my brilliant teacher Hart deFouw do amazing things with astrology and palmistry, I asked myself, what if a private detective had this set of skills? Imagine a Sherlock Holmes, Hercule Poirot or Nero Wolfe with insight that borders on the paranormal. Although divination is never foolproof in mortal hands, it gives my hero a slight advantage over more traditional forms of investigation.
Tell us a little about your main character.
The hero of SCORPIO RISING is Axel Crowe. He’s single and on a spiritual path, but struggles with both celibacy and betting on the horses, both of which has caused a rift between him and his guru. For the most part, he’s a morally upright man who is capable of resisting bribery, seduction and other forms of coercion. Aside from astrology, palmistry and a toolbox of divinatory techniques, he was educated as a criminologist and is thoroughly familiar with police procedures. He has a wry sense of humor, an obsessive attention to detail, and a dogged perseverance for justice. He speaks three languages, knows a few martial arts and is equally at home in an ashram or a Fortune 500 boardroom.
What are your other characters like?
I enjoy making my villains as human as possible. Carrie Cassidy is a struggling writer in a loveless marriage, someone whose daily mood fluctuates between hope and despair, but who’s ruthlessly driven to gain the fortune that Fate has thus far denied her. Jeb Stockwell is a banker who married into wealth but he’s a frustrated hedonist who craves the freedom that only his wife’s death can give him. Dave Munson is a musician whose dreams of rock stardom have lost their fizz, and now he just wants the big score that will allow him to live large, no matter whom he has to kill.
What challenges did you face as you wrote this book?
Presenting astrology and palmistry in a “serious” light takes deft handling. For the believers among my readers, this requires enough detail to demonstrate that my hero knows what he’s doing, and uses his skills in a credible manner. For the lay public who may be sceptical, I had to walk a fine line between attempting to educate with a minimum of exposition, while still portraying these techniques as a facet of criminal profiling that doesn’t require too much suspension of disbelief.
How has your background influenced your writing?
Being a professional astrologer and palmist gives me the hands-on experience to know what I’m talking about. Everything in this book is rock-solid as far as the various techniques employed, whether astrology, palmistry, numerology, Ayurveda or vastu, a Hindu variant of feng shui. Some reviewers have remarked how seamlessly I’ve worked this material into the plot, adding a spiritual dimension to what is admittedly a gritty business. I like to think of it as new age noir.
Have you written any other books?
I wrote five pseudonymous novels years ago that were published by New York houses, and I have two other novels on the market these days. HARM’S WAY is a mystery and action/thriller about a private investigator searching for a politician’s runaway daughter in Montreal. HIDE IN PLAIN SIGHT is a mystery and psychological thriller about a twin who impersonates his brother in order to alibi his own wife, and thus ends up sharing a bed with his sister-in-law.
What genre are your books?
I write crime fiction, with a blend of mystery, suspense and action. Some of them are hybrids, with elements of police procedure and psychological thriller. I travel whenever I can and occasionally use foreign locales. I always liked the label that Graham Greene put on his novels – calling them ‘entertainments’.
What are you working on right now?
Currently I’m writing a mystery suspense novel, AL-QUE’BECA, about a female homicide detective in Montreal whose investigation of a hit-and-run uncovers a terrorist plot. Although I now live in Toronto, I lived in Montreal for 20+ years and find it’s a great backdrop for criminal fiction.
What writer influenced you the most?
I think any writer must admit to multiple influences. I admire Raymond Chandler, Ernest Hemingway, Anais Nin, Ross Macdonald, Graham Greene, Martin Cruz Smith, Robert Harris, Margaret Atwood, Alan Furst and Philip Kerr, to name just a few.
What are your future plans? What will you bring to the literary world besides more stories?
I’m currently developing the plots for two sequels to SCORPIO RISING, again featuring my hero Axel Crowe, and intend to create a mystery series along these lines. I’m also working on an astrology book, and have plans to create a number of short instructional videos for YouTube. In between major projects, I like to write music, short fiction and humor, so I’m just building up a head of steam.
Where can people learn more about your books?
For Kindle ebooks and paperbacks, you can find me on Amazon at http://www.amazon.com/Scorpio-Rising-ebook/dp/B0050IOY6I
For other ebook formats, you can find me on Smashwords at http://www.smashwords.com/books/view/59231
Scorpio Rising has received many good reviews, all of which can be found at http://pinterest.com/alanannand/scorpio-rising/