7.11.14 - On Losing A Friend

By JT Ellison

We’ve lost a great man. John Seigenthaler is a Nashville legend, one of the classiest, smartest, most interesting men I’ve ever had the pleasure to know. When I heard the news today, the inevitable news, because he’s been fighting cancer, and was clearly getting frail, I cried. I haven’t seen him lately, despite our planning to have a lunch date to discuss a story I want to do on the Fugitive Poets, and we didn’t do our annual interview, which told me the end was near. As is always the case, I’ve been meaning to reach out these past few weeks, and of course hadn’t, and that’s a terrible shame, something I’ll always regret.

There are a lot of great stories out there about his incredible life, and I encourage you to read them. My own will be more personal.

You see, John was a catalyst for me. He was my first big interview when my debut novel came out in 2007. My publicist at the time was friends with him, and got me slated for the show. A WORD ON WORDS has been a Nashville Sunday morning institution for years. I was scared to death, and thrilled that I was about to enters the annals of the shows history, get to sit down with the John Seigenthaler.

Most authors will tell you, many interviewers don’t read the books. They have talking points and synopses sent by publicists, and they rely on a few well-placed questions to guide the discussion. That wasn’t John Seigenthaler. He read the book. He read all the books. When we sat down, before the cameras rolled, he opened the back cover and I saw three pages of notes. He refreshed his memory whilst I panicked, then the cameras rolled and we began.

Saying he’d read the book is a misnomer. He’d dissected it. Had gone so in-depth, as a matter of fact, that he asked me questions I had no answers for, in ways I’d never thought of, about parts I didn’t even realize were there. He drew every exquisite inch out of that interview, peppering me with interrogatories and asides about his own life as a crime reporter (there’s a crime reporter in the book) diving into relationships between the police and the feds, the poems, the killer, the whys behind the story, my process.

It’s funny, you can hear the abject terror in my voice when we started. By the end, I wanted to keep on talking with him for days. If he’d offered me a spot living in his pocket, I would have gladly accepted.

Our meetings became more personal. I’d always wear my pearls in his honor, he’d always wear a tie. When he told me about the cancer, I wanted to weep, but he kept a brave face on, and so did I. Every time we parted, he gave me a hug and a kiss, because “it might be the last time.” He was hyper-aware of his own mortality, telling me his age with a sly sense of pride. After one interview, he plainly stated he was wondering about his legacy, and that he feared this would be our last interview. He wasn’t kidding, and I gave him the only answer I could.

“John, you are unforgettable.”

And he is.

When I heard the news this morning, I wanted to hear his voice again, so I went to the Nashville Public Television website, lit a candle, and starting listening to the podcasts of our many interviews for A WORD ON WORDS. It’s like stepping through a time warp, watching my career unfold. And having been able to share it with this incredible man is something I will treasure, always.

John taught me how to do an interview. He taught me how to think about my novels, about my work, about the interconnectivity of the characters and the story. His interviews were my favorite part of every tour, because I knew he’d find something so challenging for me to think about, to chew on. There were lines I’d throw in just to see if he’d catch the reference, and he always, always did.

And it wasn’t only the intellectual challenge he provided. The kindness this man showed to all of us was legendary. His gift was his ability to make every author, every person who met him feel like the most important person he’d ever been with. He made it clear that you mattered.

You mattered to me, John. I will miss you terribly. And if you have a chance to send me a dream, please do.

There’s a big book event tonight at Parnassus, our major local indie bookstore. I know John will be toasted all over town tonight, and can’t help but think that raising our glasses to him in the midst of words and friends is the best tribute of all.

Here are links to our interviews. I hope you listen to one or two, simply to get an idea of how amazing John was.

Rest in peace, my friend.

2007 – ALL THE PRETTY GIRLS

2008 - 14

2009 – JUDAS KISS

2010 – THE COLD ROOM

2011 – SO CLOSE THE HAND OF DEATH

2012 - A DEEPER DARKNESS

Via: JT Ellison

    

7.10.14 - On Yogic Dreams

By JT Ellison

I dreamt of yoga last night. I had mastered Chaturanga, a transition pose I struggle with mightily. It drives me crazy that I can’t do this pose correctly. It seems silly to me that this is what I have trouble with, it looks so simple and elegant when my teachers do it, but I have three screws in my left shoulder and it doesn’t move exactly right, and it takes a LOT of upper body strength. At least, that’s my excuse.

In the dream, I was flowing seamlessly from down dog to child’s pose to Chaturanga to upward facing dog, over and over, astonished that I felt like I was floating through the movements. I was showing off for my DH, running through sun sal Surya Namaskar A, my body moving in concert with my mind. It was glorious, and I woke this morning so excited to get on my mat today. (for those who haven’t a clue what I’m about: click here.)

I dream about doing yoga a lot, and doing wildly difficult positions with utter ease, like I’m lighten than a feather and moving myself around is nothing. Balancing armstands especially are possible in this dreamworld, something I doubt I’ll ever get to in real life, especially since I haven’t been sticking to my yoga schedule lately. I want to get on my mat every day, and yet, I always often myself busy with other things. I’m trying to find the exact reason behind this mental block. I was thinking about it yesterday, and clearly, Chaturanga has something to do with it.

Add another goal to the ever growing list.

I just turned my guest room into a mini yoga studio. It’s perfectly sized for me, exactly enough room to flail about. I have a superb app on my iPad I use called Yoga Studio, a couple of Strala videos by Tara Stiles I’m excited to try. All it wants is a regular visitor.

To my yogi friends – any advice for rebuilding my home practice?

And a bit of business: WHEN SHADOWS FALL comes out in paperback next month (August 26). I’d love it if you pre-ordered from your favorite bookstore. If you’re a book blogger who is interested in reading WHEN SHADOWS FALL for review, please contact media@jtellison.com with your website, credentials and recent reviews to request your digital epub copy.

1834 today. Not bad. Story’s moving, and that’s all I can ask.

Via: JT Ellison

    

Murderati 2.0 (and what I did on my Scottish vacation)

By noreply@blogger.com (Alexandra Sokoloff)

Great news for Murderati fans. We’re back! The fabulous J.T. Ellison and web designer extraordinaire Cissy Hartley figured out a format for us to continue blogging but without the rigid schedule, so that we’re able to post on our own blogs and have them also show up on the Murderati blog. It solves the problem that ultimately shut Murderati down last year: it was taking too much time away from our writing to adhere to a regular schedule.
And I thought for my return post, I’d finally come clean about my last year (both here and on the new Murderati blog.

It’s been a little over a year since my last post on Murderati. So what have I been doing on that Murderati vacation?

Well, of course, yes, I wrote another book. Two books.

Blood Moon, the second in my Thriller Award-nominated Huntress Moon series, is available now. I’m very excited to announce that Thomas & Mercer has picked up the series and will be re-releasing Huntress Moon and Blood Moonin the fall, along with Book Three, Cold Moon, in print, eBook and audio. There’s a brand new audiobook of Huntress right now, which I put out myself, with the fantastically talented, multiple Audie nominee R.C. Bray narrating. And I’m working on Book 4 right now, along with another series. More about all that to come.

But there are other things to catch up on first.



Because it was also almost exactly a year ago that I went to Left Coast Crime in Colorado Springs, and ended up, um, moving to Scotland.


Yes, when I take a break from something, I really take a break.

I blogged about that Left Coast Crime trip here, but I didn’t exactly tell the whole story.

You all know that at a conference, you can find the writers at the bar. You may not be as aware that the longer you stay in the conference bar, the more likely it is to turn into a hotbed of illicit activity. (Okay, I guess that’s true of any bar…)

So last year at Left Coast Crime I was at the bar talking to Scottish crime writer Craig Robertson… and basically we never stopped. I visited him in Scotland, he visited me in California… and suddenly we were redecorating an office together. (No, we don’t write in it at the same time. He often doesn’t wake up until I’ve finished my entire writing day. Which is useful for productivity…).

I always said if I ever did the love thing again, it would have to be with another writer. It’s just too hard when the person you’re sharing your life with has no idea what is going on in your head. With another crime writer, you know exactly what’s going on in your partner’s head. And it’s seldom pretty. And that’s okay. Because let’s face it, what’s in your own head isn’t very pretty, either. And you can do things like wake the other person up in the middle of the night to ask critical life questions like “What’s the absolute minimum time you can get DNA results back?” and they will not only have the answer but not mind you asking (much). That’s pretty golden.

So we’ve been living together a year now, which is pretty good considering that I moved in with him before we had a first date. And it will make for some interesting new blog material, because I have three new perspectives to write about: living with another thriller writer, and living in another country, and the UK book business.
I’ll start today with the question everyone always asks me:

What’s it like living in Scotland?

And you know how I love my lists, so here’s a short list of answers.


- It’s more like Trainspotting than Brigadoon
Actually, Glasgow is more like Trainspotting, Edinburgh is a bit like Brigadoon. Especially up around the tourist traps near the castle. We live between the two cities, so I get to spend a lot of time in both of them, and it seems to me that Glasgow and Edinburgh have a combative relationship somewhat like the one between L.A. and San Francisco (except that L.A. doesn’t really look outside itself enough to realize that San Francisco has a combative relationship with it…). Glasgow is the mean streets, very masculine, outgoing, aggressive, and apparently crime-riddled.


Edinburgh is dreamy and arty and feminine (really one of the more gorgeous cities I’ve ever seen). As a part of the crime writing scene I spend more time in Glasgow, but I like both cities and find the contrasts fascinating. Yes, I’m taking notes…


Speaking of Trainspotting…



- Subtitles would be good

Okay, I know that in my list to the Universe of what I wanted in a partner I suggested that an accent would be nice. English, Irish, Scottish, they’ve all always worked for me. Plus the humor. What I didn’t know was how bloody hard it is to understand a whole country full of them.

Craig is pretty comprehensible when we’re alone. He was a journalist for twenty years and has interviewed people from all kinds of countries, so he’s used to adjusting his accent to whomever he’s speaking with. But get him in a taxi, and he starts talking with the driver… they might as well be speaking Swahili.

- Separated by a common language

It’s not just the accent. Even when I do manage to decipher that, I am constantly running into words and usage that I’ve never heard of. Everything that we pluralize in the US, the UK singularizes, and vice-versa. It’s the linguistic version of driving on the wrong side of the road, which they also do here. Lots of words get shortened (leccy, brekky, footie) and everything shortened has a “y” or “ie” added. If that all wasn’t short enough, they are constantly dropping “to be” in sentence construction (you hear “needs ironed” or “needs replaced” instead of “needs to be ironed” or “needs to be replaced”). And of course, everything is “wee.” It’s not “a walk” or “the shop” or “a text.” It’s “a wee walk” and “a wee shop” and “a wee text.” (If you ever hear me saying a “wee” anything, you’ll know I’ve crossed some internal line and there’s no going back.)

Apparently the Scottish people invented the English language. Apparently they invented a whole lot of other things that the English stole. So I have no grounds for any linguistic argument. Plus you really don’t want to get in an argument with anyone Scottish – they seem to have invented that art, too. So I don’t argue. I just casually mutilate the language with my Californiaisms. Probably I’m not the only one who needs subtitles.


- There are castles

Like this one, which we can see from our street:

In fact, there is history everywhere, and really, really old history. Sights like the above are so common here I often feel as if I’m living on a movie set. My dreams are pretty surreal, too.

- The weather isn’t as crap as they keep saying it is

Scots like to complain. They especially like to complain about the weather. Maybe I got such a hard sell on how crap the weather was that it seems sunny by comparison (I’m a native Californian – people were betting against me surviving my first winter) or maybe I spend so much of my day inside my own head that I don’t notice the weather, or maybe rain is just good for the kind of writing I do, or maybe Scotland is finally getting the global warming it’s been dreaming of… but I don’t mind the weather at all. It rains a lot, but there’s also a lot of sun. It’s also clear air all the time, which is wonderful. SMOG is bad. Snow is a major pain and could kill you. Rain is just weather.

- There’s this thing called a pub quiz

Pub quiz is both hilarious and nerve-wracking. Luckily they take place in a pub, so all that Guinness takes the edge right off.

Look, we all know Americans are notoriously, spectacularly bad at geography. And there’s nothing like a pub quiz to make you understand how little you know about the composition of the world. I’m even worse than normal because when I was in primary school, the gifted and talented classes were held during geography hour, so I got lots of art and square dancing, which are pretty useless in the geography portion of a pub quiz. While I occasionally get random American trivia right, I try not to get involved in the tie-breaker final answer kind of thing. But it is hilariously good fun, much more engaging than a night in watching television.

- Don’t even think about mentioning Braveheart

Not being a fan of Mel Gibson’s torture porn, I never saw the movie myself, but apparently it’s about as accurate to Scottish history asApocalypto is to Mayan history.

The actual story of William Wallace is fascinating and explains a lot about the Scottish character. He was a Scottish landowner who rebelled against incredible persecution under the English and became one of the main leaders in the Wars of Scottish Independence in the late 1200′s- early 1300′s. (And yes, it all still feels that old over here.)

Here’s the Wallace Monument, which I can see from the bedroom window (Do we think men had anything to do with this design? I wonder…)

- Yes, there are kilts



And I’m in favor of them.


So, I’ve come clean. What have you all been up to this year?




As a welcome back to Murderati, I’m giving away a new audiobook of Huntress Moon. Just comment to be eligible!


Via: Alexandra Sokoloff

    

Sometimes, you’re the bug.*

By Toni I thought I’d tell you a… fairytale. Something completely made up. Totally not related to anyone who may or may not be a member of this blog. Okay? Fiction. Totally. Once upon a time, there was this woman named…er… Tonya. Tonya was married to a guy named… Cal, and they were very happy, young, hip, good-looking people […]

Via: Toni McGee Causey

    

Is Hillary Clinton a Replicant? Some Say Yes, Some Say No...

By JD Rhoades

You know, if I was to tell you in these pages that a Republican politician was contesting his loss in a primary election on the grounds that his victorious opponent was, in fact, dead and being impersonated by a synthetic body double, you’d probably roll your eyes and go “he’s gone too far this time. That doesn’t even work as satire.”

Well, maybe it doesn’t, but it’s actually true. In Oklahoma’s 3d District, Timothy Ray Murray, whose website [now taken down] describes him as a “human, born in Oklahoma,” got himself roundly shellacked in the primary by the incumbent, Rep Frank Lucas, with



Finally, Clinton will make the mistake of knuckling under and actually providing a sample. Then the blood, so to speak, will really be in the water. Overnight a few dozen self-appointed DNA experts will flood the Internet, insisting that the test is a fake, because, I don’t know, the streaks on the test card are the wrong shade of gray on their computer monitors or something. Nothing will do to prove Clinton’s humanity, the GOP will say, but full genome sequencing. “I’m not saying that Mrs. Clinton is really a replicant,” they’ll say piously, “but I’d like to see the sequencing of all of her chromosomal DNA as well as DNA contained in the mitochondria.” It won’t matter that that’s something that none of them will have never heard of before the brouhaha. Angry Tea Partiers (as if there are any other kind) will show up at Town Hall meetings with an American flag in one hand and a bag of disreputable looking goo in the other, raging at insufficiently crazy public officials: “I have a DNA sample here that says I’m human! Why are you people ignoring the chromosomal DNA!?” before they drown out the response by singing “God Bless America.” Finally, Clinton will grit her teeth and undergo the procedure—the results of which will also be denounced as fake by “DNA experts” who failed high school chemistry. And the beat will go on…

Too crazy, you say? Could never happen, you say? I would have said that about birtherism, until it described pretty much the same arc I’ve laid out above. If there’s one thing researching this column has taught me, it’s that there is literally no theory too outlandish for wingnuts and their captive media to promote from fringe to mainstream and no evidence that they’ll accept to refute it. It could happen here…

Dusty Rhoades lives, writes, and practices law in Carthage.

Via: J.D. Rhoades