A year or so ago, the senior editor at Bold Strokes Books, Sandy Lowe, had the brilliant idea of publishing a trio of crime novellas in a single volume. Girls with Guns was released just last month and along with my story, Bow and Arrow, it includes a couple of fast-paced crime thrillers from talented authors, Michelle Grubb and Ali Vali. Today, we’re blogging together about our stories.
What was the inspiration for your story?
Michelle: Coming from Tasmania, where we don’t have a passenger rail system, let alone one subterranean, I’m fascinated by the underground in London. Every time I visit, I’m swept up in the rush and the hustle of it all. Of course I’d hate it if I had to commute daily, but the concept of someone trying to hurt innocent people going about their business seems cruel and unnecessary. Policing the underground is, I assume, a mammoth task. I’m thankful to everyone who keeps us safe.
Also the title, Girls With Guns, is pretty straight to the point. I’m a pacifist, so it was an interesting topic to tackle. I loved researching the story, but as a result, I’m sure I’m now on a government watch list somewhere. Try Googling some of the key points in Hammersmith and you’ll see what I mean.
Ali: It’s not often you get the opportunity to do something you love with one of your best friends, and getting the chance to make a new friend was an added bonus. The invitation to be included in BSB’s Girls With Guns, was also a chance to try something new, and if you know me, it was also a challenge. Word limits are my Achilles’ heel. Usually it takes me thirty thousand words to say hello.
After the invite came the process of thinking of a story, and as always, my buddy Derby Cain Casey was lurking in the back of my head as was my love for New Orleans. Hell Fire starts actually in New York, another of my favorite cities, but ends up on the streets I know well. The inspiration for the story came from the question of how would Cain handle an agent for the FBI who’s this close to her? Would the love of family win out?
Carsen: When I was asked to be part of this project I knew right away I wanted to revisit my bounty hunter character, Luca Bennett. Luca carries a Colt 45 and she’s the consummate gal with a gun. But other than that, I had absolutely no idea for a story. Then a couple of my friends bid on and won an auction to name a character in one of my novels. Cris Perez-Soria has often told me of her love for jury duty, so I decided to make her a central character in the story and stick Luca on a jury-a task she loathes- and see what happened. The story came tumbling out.
You usually write novels. Was it easier or harder to write a shorter version, the novella? What were the challenges and would you do it again? Will readers see these characters again?
Michelle: I enjoyed writing a novella. I’d certainly do it again but the key is planning and preparation. I felt like I increased the intensity of my writing and my challenge now is to maintain that intensity in a full length novel.
I’m hoping Belinda Riley will pop up again. I enjoyed writing her, she had a naivety I admire. London is an amazing place with complex layers of society I’d like to explore. I have the idea of a series bouncing around in my head, but we’ll have to see where that leads.
Ali: Hell Fire is full of action, which isn’t new to my writing, but I did find it harder to fit it into the novella format. The length though, concentrated the plotline. No sidebar stories, minimal secondary characters, so in a sense it made it easier. This time I could pour more into introducing Finley and Abigail and telling their story. After the great learning experience I’d jump at the chance to do it again.
Once I was done with this story, there was no way I could let these characters go, so you’ll definitely see them again. The Devil’s Due is now finished and starting the editing process, so with more Cain and Emma, you’ll also see Finley and Abigail again. They’ll also be part of the major plotline in the Devil’s seventh book, which might get done sooner than later since I’ve got that Casey bug again.
Carsen: It was definitely challenging to write in what was a new form for me. Longer than a short story, shorter than a novel – it was all kind of Goldilocks, but I really enjoyed getting into the groove of this new arc and I’d gladly do it again.
Luca is my favorite character to write. Shhh, don’t tell my other characters 🙂 But seriously, I enjoy writing in first person and the freedom of being so close to the feelings and emotions of the central hero. Bow and Arrow was a good opportunity to explore the changes in Luca’s life now that she’s in a relationship.
What’s next for each of you? What are you working on now, what’s coming out soon? You know the drill 🙂
Michelle: I’m in the process of rewriting a story I originally penned and self published many years ago. It will be released early next year. The title is Becoming You and it’s the raw and heartfelt journey of a woman who travels to Ireland for adventure. While she’s there, she falls in love, falls out of love, and suffers deep pain in the process. There’s a handful, of people in the world that may have already read the story because I self published it, but it was rough back then and certainly in need of editing. I hope I do it justice and I hope that if some of that small group of people re read it, they’ll enjoy the revised version.
Ali: Right now Beneath The Waves is available at Bold Strokes Books website and everywhere else later in May. This story revolves around the premise that Atlantis is a real place, underwater and populated by people who’ve been part of human history through the ages. Anytime you can let your inner kid out on the page is always fun. It was meant to be a standalone, but you know me, you might see these characters again.
The other exciting news is that The Devil Inside is now available in audiobook form. Hilarie Mukavitz does a fantastic job with the book, so it was a different experience hearing it come to life. Production had started on The Devil Unleashed so it should be available soon. Like Carsen I also have a story in BSB’s anthology Girls on Campus. The title, Hard Wet Lessons, kind of sums up the storyline in this one, so go check it out along with the fantastic lineup in this book.
Next up is a romance that’s been taking shape, and like in all new books, doesn’t have a title yet. I love writing them, but the title always comes last. Then I think it’ll be back to the Devil for the seventh book. I always thought lucky seven would be the last, but as The Devil’s Due reminded me, these guys might have more to say than that. It’s a blessing that you’re still listening.
Carsen: It’s a busy spring, summer for me. This book came out in April. In May I have a story, Study Buddies, in an erotic anthology (a first for me) from BSB, Girls on Campus, and in June, the second installment in the Lone Star Law series, Above the Law, hits bookshelves. To close out the year, I have a standalone romantic suspense novel, Without Justice, scheduled for release in December.
I’m currently working on the third book in the LSL series, Letter of the Law and I have contracts on two more standalones for 2017 release. Like Ali, I’m eternally grateful that folks keep buying my books and asking for more – nothing more inspiring to a writer than a loyal readership.
And that’s a wrap. A big thanks for Michelle and Ali for joining us here at Women and Words. You can pick up your copy of Girls with Guns at www.boldstrokesbooks.com or anywhere books are sold!