The Dying Dance

The Dying Dance - Ricardo Fleshman

When writing thrillers, it can be difficult to find the middle ground between suspenseful and unrealistic. Ricardo Fleshman obviously does not have that problem. Not only did I have trouble putting the book down once I started reading it, but on more than one occasion, I felt my anxiety rise as Mose found himself in yet another difficult position. 

The characters were gloriously detailed -- yes I used the word gloriously. Fleshman's writing is so vivid that I had no trouble visualizing each and every character and scene. I felt as though I was in Louisiana -- and I've never been there before!

I absolutely loved the character of Armond and desperately wished to see more of him throughout the work. I'm hoping that he's a repeat character in future Mose books. I wanted to sit down and drink wine with him and Mose too!

I was extremely sad at Daniel's demise. I'm not sure if it was because the book starts out from his point of view, or if I was just attached to him as a character, but I very desperately wanted to know more about him and I was sad when Lisette moved on so quickly. But my disappointment strengthened my opinion of the book. Fleshman created characters that I was so attached to that I was upset at their passing. So bravo to him!

What excited me even more as I read this work was that with Fleshman's skills and the vast potential for suspense and intrigue in Louisiana, there is a world of possibilities waiting for Fleshman to explore with his Mose series. And quite frankly, I do plan to read them all. 

Some Bio Information

Ricardo Fleshman is the author of the Detective Byone series. The Dying Dance (2013), The Devil’s Serum (2014) and The Cemetery Paintings (2014) are the first Detective Moses Byone novels that follows the detective through the dark and sinister cases set in 1970’s New Orleans, LA.

Ricardo is an avid reader, travels extensively with favorite destinations in the United States South and also international locations in South America and Europe. He is a fan of horror books and movies, dark art and "The Blues." He is a graduate of Lynchburg College in Virginia. He resides in Northern Virginia with his family where he continues to write more stories of Detective Moses Byone.


1. Who influences your writing the most? (not necessarily an author)

I think my influences have been private detectives of old, Sam Spade, Phillip Marlowe, Shaft (movie), Columbo (t.v. show) and writers Mickey Spillane, Dashielle Hammett, Raymond Chandler those all captivated me when I was young.

2. Daniel seems to have quite the mysterious past – is that another story?

Daniel’s story does have yet to be told and I have been mulling around it as an entire different series.

3. What prompted the setting in Louisiana?

The Vieux Carre- the French Quarter chose me- the city if so ripe with history and a distinctive culture all its own- it was very hard not to write something set there.

4. What led you to be a writer?

Reading so much when I was young and having that same need to tell the stories that were in my head. I wanted to see readers get as much satisfaction from my writing as I got from my favorite writers- that has not changed.

5. Favorite past time?

Reading- when I’m not writing, I read one sometimes two books a week.

6. Describe your ideal writing setting.

The city of New Orleans, in the Vieux Carre just before dawn.

7. What’s the most difficult part about being a writer?

Bringing the living characters, settings and stories that I have in my head to paper. Finding the right words to convey the story that is alive in my head is the most difficult part.


Lilac Lane

Lilac Lane - Ann Swann

Starting over is scary enough without having someone you're running from. I think that's part of what makes Ella's story so intense -- that and the author's brilliant use of dramatic irony. Early on in the book, the reader learns that Anson has been released from jail and he's looking for Ella and Nick. But Ella continues to believe that he's still in jail. Because of this, each time something bizarre happens, Ella assumes that it can't be Anson because he's still in jail. 

The other genius part of this thriller is that, while the reader knows that Anson is on the loose, there are several other possibilities placed before us and it's difficult to guess what direction the author will choose. There are the raccoons, the idea of a ghost, Mrs. Benefield and her "little boys in the attic," and most of all, there's Chet. While he seems to be the perfect man (albeit with a small amount of baggage) he could be an insane psychopath stalker that is trying to scare Ella into his open arms. The part that I found most fantastic about all of this is that I, as the reader, would have been content with any of these scenarios!

Finally, and possibly my favorite part, was that although there is some romance between Chet and Ella, this is truly a story about mother and son. Throughout the book, the bond between Ella and Nick grows stronger as they count on each other to survive the difficult situation. I loved this aspect and appreciated the strength of these characters. Family is so important and I think we tend to forget that. 

Some Bio Information

Ann lives in Texas with her husband and rescue pets. She loves libraries and book stores and owns two e-readers just for fun. Ann writes what she likes to read. Her Romantic Suspense series (5 Prince Books) consists of: Book One, Stutter Creek, and Book Two, Lilac Lane. Book three will be out in 2015. Her other book for 5 Prince Publishing is All For Love, a women’s novel of heartache and hope.

Her paranormal book series centers around a couple of teenage ghost-magnets: Stevie-girl and the Phantom Pilot, Stevie-girl and The Phantom Student, and Stevie-girl and The Phantom of Crybaby Bridge.

Ann also has short fiction in several anthologies. The most recent short story, Sleepaway Pounds, won first place in a short-story contest. It is included in the anthology, Seasonal, Sweet, and Suspenseful.


1. Describe your optimal writing environment.

My optimal writing environment is on my iMac at my antique teacher’s desk in my den. I’ll have some music on, but nothing too distracting. I actually like to have the radio on so there is a variety, but I often turn it down so low I can barely hear it. Background noise, I suppose.

2. Chet and Ella's story seems a bit open ended. Are you leaving it up to the reader's imagination, or are you planning to continue their story? 

Great question. I don’t believe in easy endings. I wanted Ella to be more careful after all she (they) had been through. And YES, there will be a bit about them in the next book, but they will not be the major characters this time.

3. I find the character of Mrs. Benefield intriguing. Is she merely a red herring or is that a story for another time? 

Poor Mrs. Benefield (fictional name) was based on a real woman who used to call me when I was a nighttime police dispatcher. She had dementia and she would call me in the middle of the night and whisper that “those boys” were back in her attic. It always gave me chills so I had to include her somewhere. But basically she was just a red herring here.

4. Describe the ingredients for a perfect suspense thriller. 

Another great question. Each book is different, but of course there must be someone in distress, someone (or something) threatening to harm them in some way, and of course the satisfactory resolution. I know that is super simple, but I often write about “evil” humans because I’ve met a few of them in real life. It’s my catharsis.
5. Why do you think Anson was trying to inflict psychological damage as well as physical damage? He had the element of surprise initially. 

He wanted more than just physical revenge. He was going to make them suffer and he didn’t want it to be over too quickly. 

6. For the most part, Lilac Lane is told through Ella's perspective, but you break from that on several occasions -- why? 

I like for the reader to be in different characters’ skin. I feel it lends immediacy to the story. I also write what I like to read, and I love to look at things from different perspectives. I get bored easily.

7. Where do you draw your inspiration?

Everything I write began with something that really happened. Sometimes it is something that occurred locally (as with the little boy beside the road in Stutter Creek), or something that I read about in the news (as with husbands who murder their estranged wives and/or girlfriends). Often I have to write about horrific things just to get them out of my mind.    

The Brothers' Keeper

The Brothers' Keeper - Matthew Peters

It's easy to love a good conspiracy. There are countless books (fictional and nonfictional), movies, television shows, documentaries, and plenty of people staring up at the stars with tin foil hats on. The revelation of a real life conspiracy could potentially change the entire world -- or our entire belief system in this book's particular case. 

What struck me about The Brothers' Keeper was not so much the idea behind the conspiracy itself, but the choice that Branson faces. Should he reveal the truth behind the conspiracy and risk destroying countless lives and the moral code that millions of people abide by or keep it a secret and be forced to deal with the truth on his own? 

And one aspect that I keep going back to, even after putting the book down, is the character of Jessica. She seems to be quite the wild card and I'm unsure that Branson can count on her to share his belief that the secret should remain undiscovered. 

Peters has created an intricately weaved plot that kept me hooked from beginning to end. I was amazed at the detail included and the vast amount of research that he submitted himself to in order to write this thriller. All the layers are smoothly whipped together to give the reader the perfect amount of urgency and anxiety as they follow Branson in his quest. 

Some Bio Information

Dual diagnosed* from an early age, Matthew Peters dropped out of high school at sixteen. He went on to obtain an A.A., a B.A. from Vassar College, and an M.A. and Ph.D. from Duke University. He has taught various courses in a variety of disciplines throughout North Carolina. He is committed to increasing the awareness and understanding of the dual diagnosed. Conversations Among Ruins (All Things That Matter Press, 2014) is his first novel. His second novel, The Brothers’ Keepers (MuseItUp Publishing, 2014), is a political-religious thriller that capitalizes on his love for history and research. Currently, he is working on a sequel to The Brothers’ Keepers.

*The term dual diagnosed refers to someone suffering from a mood disorder (e.g., depression) and chemical dependency (e.g., alcoholism).


1. What would you like your readers to take away from your work? 

At the end of the day, I would like readers to feel that they’ve experienced a good story well told. 

2. If you stumbled across the biggest discovery in history, would you be able to keep it a secret? 

That’s an excellent question, Ann. This lies at the very heart of the protagonist’s (Nicholas Branson) dilemma. I would say that I probably would not be able to sit on the biggest discovery in history if I stumbled across it.

3. Which is more fun, the writing or the research? 

Research, research, research! Did I mention it’s the research? I have a love/hate relationship with writing. I am very results oriented and often find it difficult to sit inside the messiness of process, which all of writing is. However, the sense of accomplishment that comes upon completion of a work is like no other.

4. Do you prefer silence while writing or do you use music (or something else) to help inspire you? 

I have to have music on while I write. And it has to be classical. Bach and Beethoven are my biggest sources of inspiration.

5. What does your writing say about you? 

Wow, Ann, you ask some easy questions! Um, let me think for a moment. In terms of The Brothers’ Keepers, I think it says that I care deeply about history and about issues of faith. I think it also says that I believe every writer should do his research, and strive for a very high quality product, so as to give the reader her money’s worth.   

6. Who do you identify with more: Branson or Jessica? 

I identify more with Branson in some ways, particularly his struggle with faith and his being a veteran of the whiskey wars. Also, Branson tends to over think things. At the same time, I love Jessica’s wit and her sense of humor, with which I can identify (or at least I hope people would say I could).  

7. Who is your favorite author? Is this because of entertainment value or inspiration? 

I can’t say I have one; I go through phases. But the following authors are among my favorites: Fyodor Dostoevsky, Hermann Hesse, Ernest Hemingway, Truman Capote, Albert Camus, Milan Kundera, and William Styron.

The Girlfriend Experience

The Girlfriend Experience - Charles O'Donnell

Although The Girlfriend Experience has all the characteristics of a classic thriller, I felt that it went even deeper with one of its underlying plots.

I walked away sensing that I had just read a coming of age story. Does it fit in with the young adult genre? No. This is definitely a book for adults, but Matt's transformation from your typical "computer nerd" who has the naive belief that life is fair and that trouble could never come looking for him into someone who can take care of himself and is prepared to handle whatever life throws at him, is really quite stunning. 

Applying the young adult theme to an adult fiction is a rather intriguing concept. Sure, lots of books feature adults who go through some form of personal growth, but I've never seen such a dramatic change handled so gracefully by an author. Whether or not this was intentional, I'm not sure. I chose not to ask the author because I'd like to believe that Matt's character matured on his own as the plot progressed. 

One of the classic attributes of a young adult coming of age story, is the child's return to his or her home at the end of the book. It's a rule that I battle on a daily basis in my writing. In real life the child doesn't always return home. However, after all that Matt has been through The Girlfriend Experience, how does O'Donnell end the story? With Matt meeting a nice Italian girl -- just like his momma would want him to! He goes home. 

I very much enjoyed this work and had a hard time putting it down once I started reading it. Each new chapter throws a different twist that I didn't see coming. The characters had so much life to them that it was hard to believe that they don't really exist somewhere. They probably do -- it's a big world out there. 

Some Bio Information

Charles O'Donnell was born in Ames, Iowa in 1955, the eighth of fifteen children. He attended college at Iowa State and graduate school at the University of Wisconsin at Madison, where he studied engineering. His career led to a position leading product development for a global company with teams in the United States, the Philippines, and China. He makes frequent trips to China, Italy, and other potential settings for his high-tech thrillers.

Charles lives with his wife Helen in Westerville, Ohio.



1. How did you choose your title? (This side of the book, although important to Matt, seems quite insignificant compared to the espionage side of the work -- unless I missed something)

My whole career has been in the world of high-tech. This is a high-stakes, fast-paced environment where decisions are made on the fly, often without regard for the consequences. Some leaders actually pride themselves on their disregard for risk. I’ve seen some decisions that make the hairbrained schemes in The Girlfriend Experience seem like the height of responsibility.

But the idea for the story didn't start with technology. I got the idea while reading about Allie the Escort in the book Superfreakonomics.

Here was my premise: What if the leader of a high-tech product development team who needed to keep his star player happy decided to hire a call girl to pose as his girlfriend?

I discovered the phrase "girlfriend experience" with a little research. (If you want to know what that research was like you can get an idea from Jon's tour of the Internet described in Chapter 8.) I knew then what the title of the book would be.

2. Is Matt's story over?

Absolutely not! Matt shows up again, a few years older, in Moment of Conception, a political thriller set in Washington, D.C., and Bologna, Italy. Moment of Conception is due out this summer. And I’m working on the outline for a third book, Satoshi, in which Matt appears—forty years in the future.

3. What's your method for keeping all the twists and subplots straight and in order as you write?

There are two types of writers, gardeners and architects. Architects design, plan and build. Gardeners plant seeds and see what sprouts. I subscribe to the architecture school. I start with a general premise and then outline the story as I go along. But strange to say, the finished product always deviates from the plan. I guess I can’t keep a few weeds from sprouting.

4. Why do you write?

I’m an engineer. I used to design things, and that was great, but my career has “progressed” beyond that. I miss it. Writing fiction is a purely creative act. It fills a hole in my life. The writing process is also a learning experience. I like how The Girlfriend Experience turned out, but I know I can do better. I’m sure I’ll be writing for the rest of my life.

5. If you could write anywhere, the perfect workspace, what would it look like?

I’m almost there:

If I could only magically transport this space from Westerville, Ohio, to Raleigh, North Carolina, it would be perfect.





6. What would you like your readers to take away from this book?

The amount of control you have over your destiny is your own choice, but think: how many of us have ended up in a bad spot at the end of a long chain of reasonable choices?

7. What's your favorite character that you've created?

Ask me to choose from among my children, why don’t you!

Seriously, I resonate with Matt at so many levels that he’s a natural choice. And Anson is such a cheerful figure that he’s whom I’d want to have a beer with. But I had the most fun inventing Gina. She’s my favorite.