Interview with Fiona Gavelle, a Character in “Judge vs Nuts” by Una Tiers

Who are you?

Hello I’m Fiona Gavelle, I’m the protagonist in Judge vs. Nuts.

Where do you live?

I live in one of the most beautiful cities, Chicago, Illinois. We have a stunning lakefront to Lake Michigan, magnificent architecture, a wide range of cultural venues, and unfortunately politics and corruption. If you read the book, you will get a guided part of my favorite parts of the city.

Aren’t there a lot of books about corruption in Chicago?

There are plenty of non-fiction books about corruption in Chicago, but Judge vs. Nuts is a humorcide, that looks at another form of corruption. The non-fiction books will give you a headache; our book will make you laugh.

What is your problem in the story?

The police think that my dead client, Judge Laslo King was murdered. Really, there are a lot of ways it could have been a terrible accident.

Dead client?

Technically, I represent the executor of his estate, so not the dead person. That isn’t allowed even in Cook County.

Do you run from conflict?

Early and often, I must have watched too much television as a child and thought life could be relatively simple. That way of thinking leaves my head in the clouds much of the time. When I left my first job, I did it in the middle of the night. When I moved out of the apartment I shared with my husband, it was while he was at work. Now when it comes to clients, I want to believe I relentlessly protect their rights.

Do you think the author portrayed you accurately?

Una made me vulnerable and naive, but she also put Aunt Tess and Judge Adam Curie in to protect me when I’m not looking. Their advice is so subtle; they think I’m not listening.

Do you have any special strengths?

I can write loopholes and spot them immediately. Then I redraft, edit, spot another loophole and repeat. It takes a long time to write a simple sentence when you are getting paid hourly.

What, if anything, haunts you?

Going to divorce court alone. My ears were ringing and I had trouble remembering how to get home.

How do you envision your future?

I like to write. I like to teach surreptitiously. I’m the protagonist in three novellas and am nearly finished with the next full length book, Judge vs Lake Michigan.

Thank you for visiting with us, Fiona. Best of luck!


Bio: Una Tiers (pen name) is an attorney practicing law in Chicago, Illinois. She is an avid reader. After a particularly grueling day in court, she wrote a story pouring all her anger into eliminating the judge, at least on paper. With a smile, additional victims were added as necessary. The result was Judge vs. Nuts, a look at murder, corruption and the Chicago judiciary. Una is calmer now.

Judge vs. Nuts is available in Kindle format.

Learn more about our masterpieces, see writing tips and other books at our website

Una takes messages for Fiona.

We are on twitter (@unatiers and Goodreads (Una Tiers)!

Interview with Erik Therme, author of “Mortom”

mortom-coverHow much of yourself is hidden in the characters in Mortom?

As many writers will admit, characters are often only ‘thinly disguised versions of themselves.’ This has never been truer than with Andy Crowl in my debut mystery, Mortom. Many times I would ask myself: What would I think or do in this situation? I’d love to say Andy’s an altruistic hero who saves the day . . . but the truth is that he’s stubborn, selfish, and often crass—all my worst attributes rolled into one. It’s always a risk to have a severely flawed protagonist (as you’re never sure if readers will connect with them), but I think it works for the story.

What about your book might pique the reader’s interest?

I believe Mortom will appeal to people who enjoy ‘non-traditional’ mysteries. There are no serial killers, no burnt-out cops, and/or retired FBI agents—only a normal, everyday guy, thrown into extraordinary circumstances. And who wouldn’t love to play a ‘real life’ game of follow-the-clues?

What’s your writing schedule like? Do you strive for a certain amount of words each day?

I tend to be most prolific during late evenings and weekends. If I’m especially inspired, I might try to sneak in some pages during lunch. I absolutely need music when I write, and—depending on the project—it varies from metal to movie soundtracks. I personally don’t shoot for a word count; I only try and write something every day, whether it’s for five hours or five minutes.

What are you working on right now?

I have two teenage daughters, and I wanted to write something they’d enjoy. Resthaven (Spring 2016) is about a group of kids who decide to have a scavenger hunt inside an abandoned retirement home . . . only to discover they’re not the only ones inside, and sometimes there are things far worse to fear than ghosts or monsters.

What is the most difficult part of the whole writing process?

I struggle with writing action. One of the golden rules for a writer is show—don’t tell, but every time I put action on the page it feels like forced description. It’s not uncommon for me to spend hours on a single paragraph, trying to get the words just right. At some point you simply have to say ‘enough is enough’ and move on. Otherwise it can drive you insane.

What writer influenced you the most?

I’ve always been drawn to Stephen King. He’s a brilliant storyteller and an incredible curator of characters. Whenever I feel stuck or uninspired, I grab some King from the bookshelf, leaf through a few pages, and I’m off and running again.

Who gave you the best writing advice you ever received and what was it?

I don’t remember exactly where I heard it, but the best writing advice I’ve received is: “Raise the stakes and continue to build them.” If you don’t put your characters in peril, why should your readers care what happens to them?

What advice you would give to an aspiring author?

Never give up, and do whatever it takes to get your writing into the world. I would love to say that good writing is the majority of the battle, but it’s not. Timing, circumstance, and luck all play a huge factor. All you can do is believe in yourself and try to make as much luck as you can.

What do you think the most influential change in book publishing will come from?

Amazon publishing. With a few clicks you can sell your book with no upfront costs, and—like traditional publishing—you receive royalties. It’s incredibly empowering. The flip side is that the market is saturated with thousands of people doing the same thing, so the competition is huge. The most important thing is to write the best book possible. If you do that, rerik-therme-4-low-reseaders will find it.

Where can people learn more about your books?

I’m active on Facebook, Goodreads, Twitter, and information on upcoming projects can be found at Mortom is available at and wherever books are sold.

Interview with Mrs. Xavier Stayton, hero of MURDER MOST CONVENIENT by Robert Colton

How do you do, Pat? My name is Mrs. Xavier Stayton. Do please pardon me, I am new to all this. My first book was only just recently published. I am quite thrilled to give an interview, and will do my best to answer your questions.

Welcome, Mrs. Stayton. Tell us, do you have a hero?

Oh, yes, Charles Lindbergh. As you know, just last year he flew from America nonstop to Paris. My husband, rest his soul, would have been so thrilled with this amazing accomplishment.

What is your favorite beverage, and why?

Tea, growing up in the United States, tea was always just a drink, however, now that I live in London it is rather symbolic of my new way of life. There is a ritual to the serving of tea, and the time it takes gives one a moment to reflect.

Please name five things in your handbag.

Well, of course there is my little silver snuff box; my cigarette case; my lipstick; a bit of pocket money, both pounds and dollars; oh and yes, my pearl handled pistol.

Do you have any hobbies?

Well, I have given up on several hobbies. I had lessons on the piano and painting, to name a few. People are always concerned about how a young widow spends her time, and suggest hobbies. I seem to have very little free time between writing, testifying in murder cases and travel.

Did you get along with your parents?

Well, of course. My father keeps to himself, he’s a busy man at The Men’s Hospital back in Saint Louis. My mother is hopeful that one day I will move back, she does not understand my love of England. But we get on all the same.

Have you ever failed at anything?

-sigh- I am not proud of my flying record. Airplanes give me the willies. I think Xavier would have been disappointed in me.

What is your favorite color?

Blue, it is the color of the sky, the color of water and the color of my dear Xavier’s beautiful eyes.

Have you ever had an adventure?

Several, there was the murder at Pierce Manor, the incident on-board the RMS Olivia and then the missing mummy in Egypt, just to start with!

How do you envision your future?

Hmm…well, that is a mystery that I have not yet solved.

JoAnne Myers, Author of “Murder Most Foul”

Welcome, JoAnne. What made you want to be a writer?

I have always been able to write. I had a teacher who suggested I become a journalist, but I took a different route.

Who or what was your inspiration?

I don’t believe I had inspiration from any one person, it was just something I wanted and could do.

What made you decide to write your books?

I write what I am interested in, and Murder Most Foul, is a fictionalized book based on a true crime.

I then became inspired by paranormal movies and wrote Wicked Intentions.

My love for monster movies inspired Loves, Myths, and Monsters. This story seemed to flow from my imagination. It was a fun book to write.

Poems About Life, Love, and Everything in Between, was inspired by my life, including the good and the sad parts.

In The Crime of the Century, the victims and the perpetrators were my inspiration. This crime sent an innocent man to death row, before DNA set him free. This crime took nearly thirty years to actually solve and bring the right perpetrators to justice. It is still the worst crime and only double homicide in my small town of Logan, Ohio. No one had written about it at that time, and I was always fascinated by the case. It was very shocking and citizens still talk about it today.

Flagitious came about while I researched The Crime of the Century and is loosely based on true crimes from my area. I discovered these crimes while watching the news.

How long does it take you to write a book?

My first true crime book The Crime of the Century, took several years to write. I had to have all the facts correctly, so I scoured newspaper clippings, courthouse documents, and witness and police statements. Writing true crime turned out to be more time consuming than I realized. But it was worth the effort. I really enjoy true crime stories. Some stories took only a few months. Fiction is much easier in my opinion then biographies.

Do you have a dream cast for your books’ characters?

With true crime books I of course use the real characters. How the crime actually took place, and what the victims went through. The fiction books I use imaginary names but some of the characters characteristics come from actual persons I have met over the years. When writing about monsters, a writer can pretty much say anything about the character. In some vampire stories, the vampire can fly, and in other stories they can’t. It depends on the writer and what he or she wants the monster to do, such as their weaknesses and strengths.

Where can we learn more about your books?


“Murder Most Foul,” solving a double homicide is pure murder for F.B.I. Agent Walker Harmon. Available in EPub, HTML, PDF

“The Crime of the Century” this true case from 1982 terrified residents and destroyed families.

“Loves, Myths, and Monsters” 11 fantasy tales entwined within the human world

Michael Haskins, author of the Mick Murphy Key West Mystery series

To Beat the DevilWhat is To Beat the Devil about?

Mick Murphy’s search to find Russian gangster Alexei, the man responsible for the murder of his fiancé, the sinking of his boat and almost taking his life. The book has two parts. It opens in part one, in Murphy friend’s voice – Norm, the black ops guy in Murphy’s life from book one.

While chasing down leads to Alexei’s whereabouts, Murphy and his friends get hold of Alexei’s journal and it leads them back to Key West, where the journal indicates a terrorist attack is about to take place.

What inspired you to write the book?

I became inspired to write the book after talking repeatedly with my military intelligence source about safety in the USA. I discovered, with other sources to verify, that cruise ships are not really protected on international waters or in local ports. What little protection offered in the port of Key West could not stop a plane attack on a docked cruise ship, any more than the TSA security at the airports stops terrorists. They do, I believe, give passengers a sense of security and that is its main purpose.

Who is your most unusual character?

I think that would have to be Padre Thomas, a Jesuit who sees and talks to angels. Not all the characters believe him, especially Norm and Bob, but Mick does because in past books the padre’s foresight of things has saved Mick.

How much of a story do you have in mind before writing your book?

Most of my books start when I have a beginning, middle and end. How I get to those last two locations is always surprising and often the characters take over and what I thought was going to be the middle or end changes. The changes the characters bring to my story are usually better than what I had in mind.

Did you do any research?

Research is an interesting subject in fiction. I believe the reader today knows a lot, some true some untrue if it’s taken from CSI shows on TV. But if one reader is disappointed in your facts, you’ve lost a reader for good. I have a military intel officer I run my ideas through, as well as weapons. Since most of my story is set in Key West, I do personal surveillance at local bars and restaurants, to get the facts straight!

Has your background influenced your writing?

My background as a journalist helped me do research as well as look for details. I gave many of these traits to Mick Murphy, so I a way I know him better because we share the same background.

Do you prefer to write at a particular time of day?

I like to write in the mornings, but to finish To Beat the Devil, I began setting time aside in the afternoons and that often went on into the knight. Now that I realize I can write most anytime, I might be able to finish the next book in less than a year!

What is a one sentence synopsis of your current work?

Art forgery takes Murphy to L.A., N.J. and Ireland to discover why his cousin, IRA fugitive Cecil Fahey was the front man for the sale to a Miami drug lord.

What do you like to read?

I am a believer that writers must read almost as many hours as they writer and, of course, you must read the genre you write to see what the competition is doing.

Do you have a saying or motto for your life or your writing?

I have a number of sayings hanging in my home office, but I think Einstein sums it up:
“Imagination is more important than knowledge, for knowledge is limited while imagination embraces the entire world.”

Where can people learn more about your books?

I have sample chapters of all my books on my website – – and of course you can read chapters on Amazon and buy the books and eBooks on Amazon.

Nichole R. Bennett, Author of “Ghost Mountain”

Ghost MountainWhat is your book about?

When Cerri Baker moves with her family to the Black Hills of South Dakota, she begins seeing things—things like murder. Cerri has spent her life trying to avoid the spirituality and “hocus-pocus” her mother embraces, but once in the Black Hills, Cerri doesn’t seem to have much choice as her spirit guide insists she find justice for a murdered man

How much of yourself is hidden in the characters in the book?

I think there’s probably a little of me.  People who have read Ghost Mountain say they can almost hear me when they read it.  I’m still not sure if that’s a good thing or a bad thing.

How much of a story do you have in mind before you start writing it?

Before I start, I know my main characters.  I know who the victim is and the antagonist.  I even know why the crime was committed.  It’s all that stuff in the middle I have to work out as I go along.

Do you have specific techniques you use to develop the plot and stay on track?

Years ago, I heard about the “fish bone” method of plotting and that seems to work for me.  If you’re not familiar with it, draw a horizontal line on the paper (that’s the spine of the “fish”).  In the middle of the line, draw a vertical line.  Then, on each side of that vertical line, draw another about half way between the line’s end and the middle.  You want to make sure there’s a “turning point” at each vertical line, with the middle one being the biggest surprise.  You want to include a smaller “zinger” between those bones.  I have the current story’s fish bone on a dry erase board in my home office.

How has your background influenced your writing?

I grew up in a home where reading was important.  My dad is a retired police officer, as was his mother.  (Yes, you read that right.  My grandmother was a cop!)  My mom is a huge mystery fan.  How could I write anything except mysteries?

How does your environment/upbringing color your writing?

I live in Western South Dakota, and write about the area where I live.

Do you have a favorite snack food or favorite beverage that you enjoy while you write?

Coffee and chocolate!

What are you working on right now?

I just finished the second of the “Cerri Baker” books and have started another mystery novel with a whole new set of characters!

Have you always wanted to be a writer?

Yes.  I originally wanted to be a newspaper reporter.

At what age did you discover writing?

I don’t remember ever NOT writing.  I was first published in Daisy Magazine when I was 7.  I had created a word search puzzle using the colors in my crayon box.

What advice you would give to an aspiring author?

Read a lot.  Write even more.  Find a critique group.  LISTEN to what they say, whether you agree or not.  Even if you think they’re wrong, they will have pointed out places where your work can be made stronger.

What genre are your books?

I write paranormal cozies.  What that means is I write mysteries where much of the violence takes place off the page and the crime is solved by a “regular person” (not someone in law enforcement).  That’s the cozy mystery part.  The paranormal part involves ghosts and spirits!

What do you wear when you write?


Where can we learn more about you and your books?

From my author page at Second Wind Publishing:

Ben Solomon, Author of “The Hard-Boiled Detective,” a Subscription Series


Have you ever planned a murder?

Sure. Usually three per month. Sometimes more. I ply the art for my subscription series, “The Hard-Boiled Detective.”

A subscription series?

“The Hard-Boiled Detective” takes an odd slant on the publishing game. This subscription series provides three works of short fiction every month. Fans download the stories in their favorite format: ePub, mobi or PDF.

What inspired you to create this series?

I grew up on heavy doses of Cagney and Bogart. The whole Warner Bros. gangster cycle. That led to Dashiell Hammett, Raymond Chandler and Mickey Spillane. Spillane’s the one who made the genre seem approachable.

Tell us about your main character.

I won’t tell you his name. One’s as good as another. Or the city that serves as his beat. You’ll figure it out, all right. His time? It’s any period you like. Call it 1929, 1939, 1959.

See, I’ve tried to create as pure a throwback as I could, where the gumshoe’s actions and observations speak for him. I don’t develop the hero’s personal life—I provide no melodrama, no backstory, no development on that level.

Describe your writing in three words.

Old-school detective fiction. (Do hyphenated words count as one or two?)

Okay. How’s about retro detective fiction?

You’re going to throw math at me, here?

Does this series have a format or concept?

Sure it does. And it’s kind of funny. After watching hundreds of movies and TV shows, and then reading all these books—there’s a murder victim around every corner. By the truckload. Hundreds. Maybe thousands. So it struck me: all these gumshoes must spend half of their professional lives at the local station house giving accounts to the bulls. That lightbulb established the format: each story of “The Hard-Boiled Detective” is told by our P.I. hero as a statement to the police. Lucky that he likes to tell a colorful yarn.

Which is more important to your stories, character or plot?

Character, by a long shot. I’m definitely in the Hammett camp on this one. He said, “What I try to do is write a story about a detective rather than a detective story.”

Why will readers relate to your characters?

Assuming I deliver the goods, they’re all bound up in one terrific genre. The detective story’s as traditional a spin as a western or an adventure of medieval knights. We’re all of us just bumping along, trying to live our lives as best we can, adhering to principles that are constantly challenged. The detective represents that, always searching for truth and justice above everything else.

If your book was made into a TV series or Movie, what actors would you like to see playing your characters?

That’s a pip of a question, and one that I’ve had a gas chewing on.

First of all, we make it a half hour television series. Can you picture that? It’s just not done, but would it ever clip along. Leave ‘em wanting more—there’s a motto for you.

The second idea’s a real stretch. We’ve got an unnamed sleuth working the mean streets of an unnamed burg, right? In a sense, he’s unidentified, right? So we cast a different actor to play him in every episode. We make him a different guest star every week. Call it hard-boiled casting. Sure.

Where can people learn more about your series?

You can find story samples, subscription info and plenty more at the website: