And the winner is!
Thanks for playing and hope to see you the next time!
DID I NOT TELL YOU we had all kinds of awesome-ness lined up for July?
Today in the house we have thriller writer extraordinaire Amanda Kyle Williams, who will tell us all about her latest fabulousness, Don’t Talk to Strangers, another hair-raising and delicious Keye Street tale! (Hit that link just above and you can read the first two chapters…just sayin’…)
And if that wasn’t groovy enough, OMG. People. She’s totally doing a giveaway of her latest Keye Street thriller. SHUT THE FRONT DOOR. No, for realz. I am not even making that up. She’s offering an ebook or print copy of Don’t Talk to Strangers (NOTE: U.S.-based winner only for print). So if you want in on this utterly scintillating drawing, leave a comment below. Make sure you include an email address in the comment fill-out form but do NOT put it in your comment body because all those spam-bots out there will pounce on your address and spread it mercilessly all over the place, and they totally won’t even care if it’s a bad neighborhood.
And now, please welcome AMANDA KYLE WILLIAMS.
On gorgeous Lake Oconee in steamy, ivy-covered Central Georgia, there’s a golf cottage I use for writing retreats now and then, just the dogs and me. The view out the backdoor is of a rolling green, golf carts whizzing down the path, golfers in visors, retirees with second homes. The community is gated and immaculately tended. The drink cart can be summoned — cocktails and snacks made to order. I’ve spent a lot of time on the deck working, revising, watching those far richer than most of us can dream, laugh and golf and drink their retirement away.
A mile from this property, where I revised my second Keye Street novel with the silvery blue waters of Lake Oconee a stone’s throw away, Ward Chapel sits in decay, trees and weeds springing up out of the middle of the dilapidated one-room building. A sign out front identifies it as The Color Purple Church. Alice Walker was baptized there. Her childhood home is just down a dirt lane across the road.
As I drove back to the million dollar community one afternoon after a trip into town for supplies, the condition of that old chapel seemed significant, a crumbling metaphor for the striking division between the haves and the have -nots in the mostly rural area. The middle class doesn’t seem to exist there, or perhaps anywhere in America now. It struck me that this is one of those places where I feel completely out of place everywhere I go. The cottage is borrowed. I don’t golf. I’m not part of the community behind those secure gates. In town, the locals are friendly but reserved. I’m not one of them either. I’m just part of the ever-changing cast of characters that passes through the area every day.
I started thinking about the subtle ways in which people treat you with suspicion while nodding and smiling, and that’s when the idea for Don’t Talk To Strangers began to take shape. What if I brought my Chinese detective to Lake Oconee and turned her loose on a murder investigation in one of the small towns in the area? How would the locals respond? How much would gender and ethnicity matter? After all, I’m white, and I’m still way outside the circle here. What if I put something dark and dangerous in those acres of thick Georgia woods? What if every strip of farmland with a barn, every basement, every storm shelter, and every abandoned property with an old shack could be hiding something? How would a killer abduct his victims and keep them alive for months without detection in a small community like this? I’m afraid this is where the mind of a crime writer goes on a perfectly lovely day just driving past Ward Chapel.
I try to let life inspire my fiction. My Chinese niece Anna, who learned her English in the rural South and is being raised by white Southern parents, inspired Keye Street’s character. I wanted to develop a character that felt authentic, a character with a Hummer full of baggage who faced her weaknesses and demons each day, then wrestled them to the ground. I wanted to write about a strong, ass-kicking woman who refuses to be a victim. I wanted to talk about race in a non-preachy way. I wanted to talk about recovery with some humor. And I wanted to write fast-paced, nail-biting, lock-your-doors crime fiction with the added depth only fully fleshed out characters can provide.
And she does, people. She does.
Amanda Kyle Williams is the author of The Stranger You Seek, The Stranger in the Room, and her latest, Don’t Talk to Strangers, on sale July 1, 2014. She is a 2012 Townsend Prize for Fiction finalist and 2012 Shamus Award nominee. She has contributed to numerous short story collections and worked as a freelance writer for the Atlanta Journal-Constitution. In order to lend authenticity to her Keye Street series, she studied criminal profiling under Brent Turvey, a nationally known criminologist and profiler, took courses geared to law enforcement in serial homicide investigation, worked with a PI firm in her hometown of Atlanta on surveillance operations, became a court appointed process server, and consulted with professionals in bond and law enforcement. Williams is currently at work on her next Keye Street thriller.
Happy Tuesday, everybody!