Sunday, August 31, 2014

Inside the Head of Aaron Lazar - Interview by Susan Voss

I recently enjoyed a really fun interview with Susan Voss. See if you don't agree with me about her unique questions! I had a blast with this one. Thanks Susan!

Who are your non-writer influences?

Hi, Susan. Thanks for having me here today. When I read through your questions in advance, I was thrilled to see they are not your usual collection of “where do you get your ideas?” or “how do you find time to write?” Thank you in advance for making this a unique and interesting interview!

Re. your first question about non-writer influences on my writing…I would say my family is probably the number one influence in everything I do, including the characters I create and the struggles they must get through. In the beginning, when I was a young man poring through all the books in my parents’ collection, they were exclusively mysteries, which definitely nudged me into my primary genre.

Now, later in life, my wife Dale and I have had a wonderful, but challenging life as a couple (33 years!), with frequent bumps in the road due to health issues and more. Getting our three daughters through the teenage years was harrowing, and it’s when my silver hair started to sprout at my temples. But now they’re grown and having families of their own, so the joys and problems have shifted. Many of our life experiences filter into the books, including some of the funny stories created by my beloved grandchildren. There was one hilarious story about my two-and-a-half-year-old Grandson that inadvertently made it into two of my series. He must have been a chef in his past life, because he started to make a twelve-egg omelet and a pot of soup in our kitchen while everyone slept at 5:00 AM! (I’ll tell you about that if you ask, LOL!)

I’m also, I must admit, influenced by the world around me in the form of friends and media. When a friend’s wife contracted a mysterious heart virus and she almost died, I couldn’t help but imagine how he felt, and of course, I’d put twists on the scenario in my constantly whirring imagination. Or when my boss’s daughter died of cancer, I couldn’t help but empathize with his pain. When I hear about horrible events on the news, after suitable sighs of dismay, my mind tucks away the possibilities of turning it this way or that, and what if… So in truth, there is nothing that happens in my world that doesn’t present possible ideas for the next book in the works. ;o)

LazarDevil'sLakeIn writing your bad guys, do you want the reader to enjoy hating him/her, or do you want the reader to be waiting for that magical moment when they redeem themselves?

In general, I haven’t progressed to the lofty ideals of turning my bad guys into good guys at the end of a story. Most of my character arcs occur with the “regulars” in my series who can be seen in each book. There are featured characters that come and go, and the villains usually just have one appearance in one book of the series.

But I do see the evil character redeeming himself more and more in literature and in the movies, and I’m in awe of people who do it well like S.W. Vaughn in her House Phoenix series (the Jenner character) or like the Korean man (I think his name was Jinn-Soo Kwon) in Lost who turns from a mafia type killer to a helpful, loving man.

My bad guys are admittedly evil, nasty creeps and I want my readers to stand up and cheer when I dispatch them, like I always do. In my most recent book release, DEVIL’S LAKE, I created a monstrous guy who kidnaps and hurts young women. I hate him. Oh, do I hate him. And it felt SO good to deliver a nice chunk of “payback” to him. I was cheering myself at that point. LOL.

LazarLadyBluesAs a published author, what non-writing/reading activities would you recommend to aspiring authors?

I often get asked questions by fellow writers about how to deal with writer’s block, and my answer for that is similar to my answer to this question about what non writing/reading activities can help an aspiring author. I tell them to go out and simply live their lives, but with their eyes wide open. Go hiking in the woods. Grow a lush garden and revel in the tastes and fragrances it produces. Wander through a small town festival. Observe details, including all the sounds and sensations in the environs. Try to enjoy (instead of dread) a trip to the grocery store where a multitude of character types and conversations wait patiently for you to take notice. LISTEN to these voices so your own dialog can sound authentic.

Living life is how we absorb the sensual beauty of the world around us as well as collecting new characters and situations for books to come. It’s all about watching and listening to everything with awe and wonder, paying attention to the details, tucking these observations away for later, and letting them come back out in your next book.

How did you celebrate that first time experience of having a piece accepted for publication?

Oh, gosh, Susan. You’d think I would remember. It was in 2004 when I first received a contract for Double Forté. I remember being exhilarated, feeling almost like a “real” writer, and telling my wife, who was quite calm about it. She’s still very blasé about my writing, which does take time away from our life together. But when The Seacrest paid for our vacation this summer, she smiled. So I’m making progress. I especially remember, however, when the first print copies of Double Forté arrived on my doorstep and I opened the box. Now, that was a thrill!

The Desert Island Collection: what books make it into your trunk and why?

I’m going to include audio books in this collection, and I will make sure to bring plenty of batteries or chargers so I can listen, because some of my favorite books in recent years have been in audio format:
All of the Alan Bradley books featuring Flavia DeLuce. (six in the series so far)
All of John D. MacDonald’s books, hardcover or audio by Robert Petkoff.
All of Dick Francis’s novels, particularly those read by Simon Prebble.
A selection of titles by these authors, who I just love: Polly Iyer, Ellis Vidler, Michael Prescott, Laurie R. King, Jenny Milchman, Joan Hall Hovey, and so many more!

LazarSpiritMeAwayWhat is a recurring or the most memorable geeky argument or debate you have taken part in?

Okay, don’t spread this around, but there is one really funny argument my wife and I always have. She’ll wake up and find me already working on a book at the crack of dawn. After our good mornings to each other, sometimes she rolls her eyes and says, “What else did I expect.” She shakes her head and goes for her coffee, mumbling, “Aaron and his computer.” I always rise to the bait. I say, “It’s not me and my computer! This is just a tool. It’s me and my WRITING.” But it never fails. It’s like she thinks I am having an affair or obsessed with a electro-mechanical gizmo every time. I admit. I am obsessed with my parallel universes and there’s no question about that.

Side characters can make or break a story. What side characters have you enjoyed in other works? What side characters in your own work have caught more attention than you expected?

One of my new favorite authors is Polly Iyer. She writes great books and her characters just jump off the page. In a recent book, Hooked, I fell in love with many of the minor characters. Hooked is a slick, sassy, sexy thriller that kept me on the edge of my seat throughout. I fell in love with the characters, who in spite of their failings were incredibly memorable and unique. Not for those seeking pure and wholesome stories, this examines the seedy underbelly of the call girl world in New York City, but it isn’t what you might expect. This book was full of humor, intrigue, and romance, but who would expect to take a liking to a whorehouse owner? I did! I loved Polly’s character, Benny, and recommend the story to thriller lovers everywhere.

In my recent work, it seems folks have fallen in love with octogenarian Kip Sterling, the gentlemen featured in Lady Blues: forget-me-not, who has lost his memory, but with the help of a new Alzheimer’s drug, is beginning to remember things about his life. Most important, he’s remembering the long, lost love of his life, Arabella DuBois, a black nightclub singer he had a torrid affair with in 1946. Gus LeGarde tries to help him find out if she’s alive, and if she is, if she still remembers Kip.

Finally, what upcoming events and works would you like to share with the readers?

I’d love to share my two newest books  – here are the details.
Sanctuary: A Tall Pines Mystery, book #3 - Synopsis

The safest place they know is about to become the most dangerous…

Marcella’s husband, Quinn “Black Eagle” Hollister, severed ties to his family and friends on the Seneca reservation years ago. He rarely mentions his past—until his young cousin Kitty collapses on the couple’s doorstep in the dead of a rainswept night.

After two Seneca men break into their home with intent to kill, the Hollisters flee with the mute and injured girl to Tall Pines, their cabin in the Adirondacks. Marcella, unable to bear a child of her own, unleashes her motherly instincts caring for Kitty. As the girl slowly recovers, they start to piece together who wants them dead, and why.

But their pursuers are canny and relentless. The next attack drives the trio from the sanctuary of Tall Pines, deep into the mountain wilderness.

In spite of their best efforts, the unthinkable happens and Kitty is kidnapped. Marcella and Quinn track her back to Tall Pines--where they find themselves facing an army of murderous Seneca who'll stop at nothing to protect their dark secret.

Available to pre-order now:
Betrayal: A Tall Pines Mystery, book #4 - Synopsis

Marcella Hollister realized a lifetime of hopes and dreams when she was given custody of a child. A cousin of her half-Seneca husband, Quinn, the baby’s mother was murdered in a political plot—and Marcella, who’s never been able to have children of her own, formed an instant bond with little Kimi.

Then a distant relative comes forward to claim Kimi—and Quinn, who Marcella thought understood her pain better than anyone, allows them to take the baby without a fight.

Confused and deeply wounded, Marcella takes off for Tall Pines, their secluded Adirondack cabin. She hopes the peace and natural beauty of the mountains will help clear her head and decide whether to forgive Quinn…or leave him.

But the situation at Tall Pines is anything but peaceful. Her high school lover, Sky, arrives to help out—and Marcella discovers her old feelings may not be as distant as she thought. Worse, a serial killer is stalking young women in the area. And when a teen girl whose mother works with Sky goes missing, Marcella and everyone she cares for wind up dead center in the killer’s sights.


All of my books can be found at, and I love to hear from readers and writers who want to connect with me.

Thank you, Susan, for having me here today. It was a pleasure being here and I wish you and your fans/friends well – happy reading and writing!

Places to Stalk Aaron Paul Lazar

A little more about Lazar and his books!

Aaron Paul Lazar writes to soothe his soul. An award-winning, bestselling Kindle author of three addictive mystery series, writing books, and a new love story, Aaron enjoys the Genesee Valley countryside in upstate New York, where his characters embrace life, play with their dogs and grandkids, grow sumptuous gardens, and chase bad guys. Visit his website at and watch for his upcoming releases, SANCTUARY(2014) and MURDER ON THE SACANDAGA(2014).

The Seacrest
  • 2014 Best Beach Book Festival WINNER, Romance category
  • 2013 ForeWord Book Awards, Romance, FINALIST
Double Forté
  • 2012 ForeWord BOTYA, Mystery, FINALIST
Tremolo: cry of the loon
  • 2013 Eric Hoffer Book Awards: Grand Prize Short List
  • 2013 Eric Hoffer Book Awards: Honorable Mention, Eric Hoffer Legacy Fiction
  • 2011 Global eBook Award Finalist in Historical Fiction Contemporary
  • 2011 Preditors & Editors Readers Choice Award – 2nd place Mystery
  • 2008 Yolanda Renée’s Top Ten Books
  • 2008 MYSHELF Top Ten Reads
For the Birds
  • 2011 ForeWord Book Awards, FINALIST in Mystery
  • 2012 Carolyn Howard-Johnson’s Top 10 Reads
Essentially Yours
  • 2013 EPIC Book Awards, FINALIST in Suspense
  • 2013 Eric Hoffer Da Vinci Eye Award Finalist
Healey’s Cave
  • 2012 EPIC Book Awards WINNER Best Paranormal
  • 2011 Eric Hoffer Book Award, WINNER Best Book in Commercial Fiction
  • 2011 Finalist for Allbooks Review Editor’s Choice
  • 2011 Winner of Carolyn Howard Johnson’s 9th Annual Noble (not Nobel!) Prize for Literature
  • 2011 Finalists for Global EBook Awards
 Terror Comes Knocking
  • 2013 Global Ebook Awards, Paranormal – Bronze
For Keeps
  • 2013 Semi Finalist in Kindle Book Review Book Awards, Mystery Category

Wednesday, August 13, 2014

DEVIL'S LAKE - 99 cents for a short time (reduced from $3.99)

After two years of brutal captivity, Portia Lamont has escaped and returned to her family’s Vermont horse farm—only to find her parents gone to New York to try an experimental treatment for her mother’s cancer, and her childhood friend Boone Hawke running the farm.

Like the rest of her family, Boone has never given up hope that Portia would return. But when she turns up battered, skinny as a twelve-year-old boy, afraid of everything and unable to talk about what happened, he does the only thing he can—try to help her heal. He summons the town doctor and Portia’s parents, and sets out to put this beautiful, broken woman back together again.

Through her family's love and Boone's gentle affection, Portia gradually comes back to herself, and starts to fall for her old friend in a whole new way. But one thing threatens her fragile hope for recovery: The man who took her promised that if she ever escaped, he'd kill her. Slowly. And someone is definitely watching her...waiting to make his next deadly move.

Friday, August 01, 2014

Where does ROMANCE fit as an element of modern storytelling? by Aaron Lazar

copyright 2014, Aaron Paul Lazar

When I started writing mysteries back in 1997, I never considered including a “romantic element” in my books.

Funny thing is, I realize now, in hindsight, that every one of my books is supremely romantic.

Crazy, huh? So many things happen beneath the scenes when I create, I find much of it is instinctual, borne of reading so many books in my lifetime. And it’s an interesting process to analyze.

When I started writing Double Forte’ after I lost my father to cancer, I begin the series with Gus LeGarde mourning his long time soul mate, Elsbeth, who died four years before the series opens. Although deceased, she is an important, dynamic character who appears in flashbacks, memories, and prequels within the ten book series. After all, her picture stays up on that bedroom mantle in the silver frame, and Gus still stops to kiss his fingertips and press them to her silver halide image whenever he passes.

In early drafts, Gus threw himself into caring for his huge family, lavishing affection on his grandson and beloved dog, growing sumptuous gardens, and trying to numb his pain by staying busy. At first, I was content to let him suffer. I didn’t intend to let him off the hook. But my wife doggedly convinced me Gus needed a love interest, so I invented Camille Coté, the lady to whom he proposed by the end of book 1, is engaged to in book 2, and marries by book 3.
I realized in hindsight that her instincts were on target.

Without even thinking about it, (I’m embarrassed to say, LOL), I subsequently introduced a strong unrequited love theme in the first book, dispersed among all the villains and mysteries that kept the cast running through woods and over the hills and fields of the Genesee Valley. I’m very glad I listened to her, because Gus and Camille have become the bedrock to the foundation of future books, and they also provide a bit of light sexual tension and humor to glue the scenes together. This is a relatively “wholesome” series, however, so there isn’t too much steam to burn up the pages. (unlike The Seacrest, where I let myself “go.” Heh. )

It seems to have worked for this series, and within the rest of the books, additional characters’ love stories have evolved, such as Gus’s daughter, secretary, best friend, and plenty of featured characters like Kip Sterling and Bella Mae Dubois, in Lady Blues: forget-me-not.

Since then, I’ve written two more mystery series with plenty of love themes, (including lesbian love in Moore Mysteries and serious unrequited love in Tall Pines Mysteries), one pure old-fashioned love story (The Seacrest), and a thriller.

Of course, one expects love within the romance. It’s a given.

But in a thriller? Almost all thrillers have plenty of high-paced action and danger and tension…but they always have a romantic element as well, where a couple is either in pre-love sexual tension or running side by side to save their lives, and ultimately fall for each other. In this new book, Devil’s Lake, which might also be categorized as a psychological thriller, there is lots of potential for a love story to evolve and possibly continue into a series of its own. Portia Lamont is damaged goods after having been kidnapped and held for four years by a monster, but her childhood friend and neighbor, Boone, is there for her and is one solid, dependable guy. I think I’ll let them get together in the end.

Think about it. How boring would stories be without some kind of relationship like that going on?
The same goes for sci-fi, fantasy, and other forms of fiction. Very often, we find a satisfying sub-theme of love, lost love, or unrequited love. The amount of time spent painting the relationship depends on the genre, of course. romantic suspense, it’s at least half the story. The other half is how the damsel in distress gets away from the bad guys, right?

In a sci-fiction story, it might take up a much smaller proportion of the book, so that all the cool scientific elements get fair time to play. But it’s frequently still there.

After all, love makes the world go ‘round, right?

Aaron Paul Lazar