Thursday, July 28, 2011

Mystery We Write Blog Tour with Beth Anderson


Book blurb for RAVEN TALKS BACK by Beth Anderson:
Raven Morressey is living the good life. Nice home, husband, three healthy children, and it's finally summertime, when life is again lovely in Valdez, Alaska. All this explodes one morning when builders, digging up her back yard, uncover a recently murdered headless, handless female body covered with scarification—hundreds of colored designs cut into the skin to resemble tattoos. As if this isn’t enough, where the corpse’s head should have been is a large rock with a face painted on that resembles an Alaska Native mask.
Raven's eight year old son, Timmy, is the first one to see the body and is suddenly unable to walk or respond in any way. On that same day, Raven hears the voice of her long dead Athabascan father coming from Timmy, who is unaware of the ancient hunting chants he sings in his sleep and the words he suddenly speaks in Raven’s native tongue—a language he does not know.
Jack O’Banion, Valdez’s Chief of Police for the past few years, faced with his first murder case in Valdez, begins his official investigation. Everywhere he goes he finds nothing but deception. The town seems to have closed into itself and nobody will tell him anything that might help him solve this case. Then one murder quickly morphs into two, then three, and the Alaska State Troopers are hot on his back to find the killer now.
Between Raven’s voices and the visions she develops, and Jack, whose career as well as his contented life in Valdez are on the line, they both feel they have to find the killer and restore some sanity to the town—not to mention their own lives, which are quickly unraveling out of control

Beth Anderson Looking Suspiciously Benign
Would you tell us a little about your latest mystery and how it came about?
My most recent mystery novel is just now making its appearance, first in ebook and by the time you read this, should be out in print at both links above.  RAVEN TALKS BACK takes place in Valdez, Alaska, a small fishing village at the very end of the Alaska Pipeline where the ships come in to collect the oil. It originally came about on the first full day I spent there, watching the fog roll down the mountainsides. I heard, inside my head, a voice speaking that would become Raven, my Alaska native heroine, who is married to a Caucasian man, Red. The first few words became my first two sentences in my one page intro, right before the first murder is discovered: "The spirits of my ancestors live in the towering Chugach Mountains that surround my world. I know they are there."
I wasn't even thinking of a plot right then, but I started watching everything I could see in this beautiful small town. The mountains. How they looked in early summer. The glaciers, always there no matter what season it is. The fishing boats down by the wharf. The people I saw around the town. Then I started talking to an Alaska Native woman who told me some about their culture. I was completely fascinated by everything and everyone I saw, and curious about all of it. But still no plot, just a feeling that one day I'd write a book about it because I loved it all so much. And naturally, being me, it would have to be a murder mystery even though there had been mostly only things like bar fights, marital problems, in Valdez. There had been no bigtime murders that took a while to solve. So again, being me, I dreamed some up and started writing.
Have you always wanted to be a writer? If so, have you written anything else?
Yes. My family has writers going back several generations that I know of. I always, as a child, had the feeling that someday I would write a book. My childhood friends have told me that I was always talking about it, although I don't remember this myself, and I had said I'd put them in a book someday. I wrote a Junior High newspaper gossip column (wouldn't you know it) and also had a short but somewhat lucrative career writing love stories for my girlfriends until the school principal squashed that idea. Later, after I married and had a couple of kids, I wrote a story for a magazine which made it to the top three, and the desire to write grew. But not enough yet for me to really pursue it. I was too busy pursuing four children and driving them around here and there to do much about writing a novel, which I really wanted to do...but not ENOUGH yet, or I would have already been doing it.
Eventually, after they were grown, I started learning how to write a novel all by myself since I didn't have sense enough to go to a library and see if they had any know-how books. So, after winging it for a long time, I sold my first novel called Count On Me to Harlequin Superromance. Lo and behold, it contained a mystery even though it was a romance novel. My second book to come out, after I had an agent, was All That Glitters, at Ballantine/Ivy. A murder mystery taking place in Hollywood. Third book out was Diamonds, taking place in Las Vegas, at Dorchester/Leisure. Another mystery, can you believe it, this time including Mafia connections. By this time I was getting the picture. I was never going to be a good romance writer because I laughed at the love scenes.  Evidently I was bent on fulfilling my destiny as a crime writer. After that came three more books at Amber Quill:  Murder Online, Night Sounds, and Second Generation. These were more fun because I had way more control over going after reviews, etc. and I got a lot of them, almost all five stars (none were from relatives). I also won quite a few awards with those books. They were also...wait for it...all mysteries.
Then my life took another sidetrack. My husband became seriously ill and stayed ill for a long time until he died just three years ago. Which brings us up to my current book, RAVEN TALKS BACK, a mainstream mystery that includes, along with all the thriller/mystery stuff, some supernatural stuff too, which I had never thought of doing before. This time though, the location itself provided the push for the supernatural.  If you ever visit Valdez, Alaska in the summertime, you'll see why I was so drawn to it. It's a very mysterious, spiritual place, especially when it's foggy. The whole atmosphere and ambiance there speaks of the supernatural, spirits talking. At least it did to me, and definitely not because I went looking for it. It was just there, and I felt it.
Do you find yourself talking to your characters when you’re doing ordinary tasks such as putting on makeup, washing dishes, driving your car? 
I find myself talking to them, yes, and they talk back to me. Or they talk to each other, and I just listen and often laugh, because they're funny a lot of the time. That's one of the things about my books. They're all mysteries or thrillers, but they also all contain laughter. Funny things happen to people that they weren't expecting and that's where the real joy comes in for me. I love it when they're being funny. Those are the easiest scenes to write.
If you could travel anywhere in the world to research a book, and if someone else pays expenses, where would you pick?
I'd go back to Valdez in a heartbeat, and I also feel almost as strongly about Anchorage, Alaska, a gorgeous, cosmopolitan city where the streets and parks are kept clean and most of their houses just give up the feeling of having sprung by themselves out of the surrounding area. Just beautiful. It's no colder there in the winter than it is in Chicago. I could be happy there.
Do you have a pet? If so, tell us about this special relationship.
I have a dog, half St. Bernard and half Boxer, named Denali. I call him DenaliDawg on Facebook. I'm putting him in the next book (which I'll be starting soon) of the Raven Morressey series. He's a wonderful, full of personality dog, and if his legs weren't getting so bad I'm sure he'd be good at tap-dancing. I also have two cats, both with different personalities. BooBoo is just the softest, sweetest little guy in the me. Everybody else has to look out, because although he likes to watch people, he's not too hot on getting close to them. And Sarge, my little girl cat, so named because she has stripes on her arms. What a little lover SHE me, LOL!  She has been known to be quite obnoxious to others, although I'm convinced it's all their own fault. Spoiled my cats are, yes. I love all of my animals very, very much.
Thanks a million for sharing your work and history with us today, Beth. You’re a fascinating woman, and your book is going on my soon-to-be-read list.
Jackie, thank you so much for letting me visit your blog today. It was a pleasure!  I hope it is for your readers, too, Beth Anderson 
It was indeed a great pleasure! Below is Beth’s bio and some websites where everyone can learn more about this fascinating woman and her books.
Author Bio
Beth Anderson is a multi-published, award winning author in several genres including romance and  mainstream crime fiction. A full time author, she lives in a Chicago, Illinois suburb. She has appeared on Chicago's WGN Morning Show, The ABC Evening News, as well as numerous other radio and cable television shows. She has guest lectured at Purdue University and many libraries and writers' conferences. She loves music, particularly jazz. Her website and blog are both at
Links to my author pages on Amazon and Barnes & Noble:
Website and blog:  http//
Publisher's Website: Krill Press
RAVEN TALKS BACK ISBN #: 9780982144398


Anne K. Albert said...

Another fun interview, Beth. Super excerpt, too! Thanks for sharing.

Sharon Ervin said...

Delightful, as usual.

Sharon Ervin

4RV Publishing said...

Enjoyed very much.


Jackie King said...

Beth, Thanks for being a guest on COZY MYSTERIES AND OTHER MADNESS. I've read RAVEN TALKS BACK and found myself unable to put it down!
Jackie King

Jackie King said...

Thanks for stopping by, Sharon and Vivian.

Jackie King

Beth Anderson said...

Hey, ladies, thank you so much for stopping by and listening to me rattle on, and then commenting. I appreciate it very much! Check the various pages on my website, they may answer questions for you that you didn't know you had. ;-)

jenny milchman said...

I remember reading about your process creating this book on another blog--the role of the fog--and being so intrigued. Congrats on its release! Glad it's in paper, too!

Jackie King said...

Hi Jenny, thanks for stopping by.

Jackie King said...

Hi Beth, I'll do that. You've made me curious because I have so many questions.

Jean Henry Mead said...

I just finished reading Raven Talks Back, an intriguing novel that I found hard to put down. One of the best mysteries I've read this year!

Jackie King said...

I loved it too, Jean.