Leighton Gage, Author of “A Vine in the Blood”

Q: Welcome, Leighton. I see Soho Crime is launching A VINE IN THE BLOOD on the 27th of December.

A: If you hadn’t mentioned it, I would have.

Q: I’ve heard it’s about soccer.

A: You don’t have to like soccer to enjoy the book. What’s written on the jacket could easily mislead you. Glenn Harper had the same reservations. He wrote about them in his blog, International Noir Fiction: http://internationalnoir.blogspot.com/2011/11/vine-in-blood-leighton-gage.html But, if you don’t have time to read it, let me summarize what he had to say: the book isn’t about soccer. It’s about kidnapping and murder.

Q: Who gets kidnapped?

A: The mother of a Brazilian soccer star.

Q: The mother of a soccer star? Kidnapped? Interesting. Did that ever really happen?

A: For a while, it was somewhat of a cottage industry. It happened to three members of the Brazilian eleven who participated in the 2010 World Cup in South Africa.

Q: Three?

A: Three. Robinho, Luis Fabiano and Grafite.

Q: Never heard of them. But I’ve heard of you. Your books contain violence, don’t they?

A: Define violence.

Q: Scenes with mayhem in them.

A: Wait a minute. Are you one of those folks who only read cozies?

Q: Of course not. I’m just curious about your books. Are they gruesome?

A: Some are. Some aren’t.

Q: What about your most recent book? A VINE IN THE BLOOD?

A: Okay, it’s not a cozy. But there are only a few murders in the book, and they all occur “off-screen” except for one. And that one is treated lightly.

Q: “Lightly”?

A: With humor. It may not make you laugh out loud, but I think it’ll bring a smile to your lips. And some of the other passages are downright funny, if I do say so myself.

Q: Can you give us an example?

A: The Argentinean jokes.

Q: What’s an Argentinean joke?

A:Read the book.

Q: Not without knowing more about it. Give me one word that describes it.

A: Gloria Feit said it was “delightful”. You want to argue with Gloria Feit?

Q: No one in their right mind argues with Gloria Feit, but…

A: What?

Q: Delightful? A book involving kidnapping and murder?

A: That’s what she said. Read–

Q: I know. Read the book. I heard you the first two times.

A: Not the book. Gloria’s review. She’s publishing it in all sorts of places. And, after she’s done, she’s going to put it on Amazon.

Q: Why a book about Brazil?

A: Lots of reasons. It’s already the seventh economy in the world. Projections are that it will be the fifth in less than ten years. It has a GDP greater than all of the next six countries in South America combined. It’s larger than the continental United States. It has an aircraft industry, a computer industry, an automobile industry. It is the world’s largest exporter of beef, chicken, soy beans, coffee, orange juice and a number of other food products. It is independent in terms of petroleum, natural gas and uranium. It has a greater potential for hydroelectric power than any country in the world. It is a world leader in bio-fuels. It sends satellites into space. It will probably be the next permanent member of the Security Council of the United Nations. It will host the World Cup in 2014, the finale of which will be seen by more than one billion people, live, on television. It will also host the Olympics in 2016. And while the economies of the rest of the world seem to be going down the tubes, Brazil is flourishing. All of which means that you’re going to be hearing a lot more about the place in the years to come.

It also has one of the highest crime rates of anyplace in the world, so if you like crime novels we’re the place to come to. We offer endless variations on the theme.

Q: Hmmm. Okay, good points. Did anyone other than Glenn and Gloria have anything good to say about A VINE IN THE BLOOD?

A: Publisher’s Weekly gave it a star. Booklist loved it.

Q: That’s all?

A: A review is coming from Library Journal, but it’s early days yet. The book only launches in North America on the 27th of December.

Q: Are there any other reviews you’d like to tell us about?

A: Dana King wrote a great review in New Mystery Reader:

http://www.newmysteryreader.com/November_and_December_Hardcover_Mystery.htm#vine in the blood

Q: I’ll check it out. What’s your best book?

A: I always think it’s the last one I finish.

Q: So A VINE IN THE BLOOD is the best book you’ve ever written?

A: No.The book I just finished is PERFECT HATRED, but it won’t be published until December of 2012.

Q: If I read any of your other books, should I read them in order?

A: I’d suggest reading BLOOD OF THE WICKED first. It’s the first book in the series, introduces most of the continuing characters and sets the tone for all the others. And you should definitely read BURIED STRANGERS before you read DYING GASP, because there’s a particularly nasty character who first appears in the former and then goes on to do evil in the latter. Other than that, they can be read in any order.

Q: Where can people learn more about your books?

A: On my website: http://www.leightongage.com

There’s a link to a video interview I recorded when I was launching my first book in Finland, so folks can see what I look and sound like. And there’s also a link to our blog, MURDER IS EVERYWHERE. We’re eight authors who write “international mysteries”, but on the blog we don’t write about our books or the craft of writing. We post about subjects of human, historical, touristic or social interest that occur in the countries in which we set our books. And we have a lot of fun with it. There’s a new post every single day, so folks can enjoy it with their morning coffee.

Q: Anything else you’d like to add in closing?

A: Read the book.

Q: I knew that was coming. Thank you for talking to us today. Best of luck with your books.