Friday, May 10, 2013

Blog Tour: The Trouble with Charlie by Merry Jones (giveaway)

This virtual book tour is presented by Partners in Crime Tours.
Click HERE for more tour information.
Welcome to The Wormhole and my day on the tour.
It is my pleasure to feature Merry Jones and
The Trouble with Charlie.
Merry Jones has stopped by for an interview:

 When did you first realize you wanted to be a writer?

I was very young. Maybe seven or eight years old. I was always writing stories, from the time I could hold a pencil.

 How many jobs did you have before you became a writer?
My first full-time job was as a writer, but for corporate communications. I had to write about retirees or benefits, about new ventures in the company. Very dry, but it got me in the habit of writing daily. It wasn’t until twenty years had passed that I finally allowed myself to get back to “my own” writing.

 How long does it take you to write a book?
Usually, between eight months and a year. I’ve had deadlines of six months. And one book took about five years.

 What would you say is your most interesting writing quirk?
Quirk? Jeez. Not sure what that means, since all writers are quirky. But I work with two computers side by side—one to write on and one to look stuff up on. I can check research, for example, on the screen adjacent to my ancient comfy reliable desktop. Or I can look at email without leaving my paragraph.

Also, I need to be wearing comfy clothes, like sweats or pjs to settle into writing. And I don’t mind background voices, but music is a distraction.

 Where do you get your ideas or inspiration for your characters?
Characters are everywhere, aren’t they? My mind is crowded with them. And when I start a book, they shove and yell, competing to get a place in a story. I suppose they come from my observations, experiences, imagination—Who knows? Very few are deliberately based on real people even though occasional resemblances to friends or acquaintances do pop up.

Despite the fact that they are all living in my head, the ones I select for a book don’t just hop onto the page fully formed. Usually, I have to live with them for a while, getting to know them before writing them. It takes time to discover their backstories, contradictions, vulnerabilities, etc.

.Elle Harrison (THE TROUBLE WITH CHARLIE) and Charlie himself seemed familiar from the beginning, though. Their relationship drove the story, and their personalities emerged as I wrote.

 How do you decide what you want to write about?
Well, since I write suspense and thrillers, I choose a plot that contains sinister elements and mounting danger. But that’s not enough. I want my books to accomplish more than just telling gripping tale. I often choose under-reported crimes in order to bring attention to them. THE TROUBLE WITH CHARLIE deals with international child abuse, for example. BEHIND THE WALLS is about artifact smuggling and honor killings. WINTER BREAK focuses on sociopaths and sadism.

But beyond the crime itself, I use the framework of the plot to talk about human issues—marriage, love, trust, anger, friendship. And I always want readers to finish a book knowing something they might not have at the start. CHARLIE, for example, presents information about dissociative disorders. SUMMER SESSION talks about brain injuries, drug trials, sleep disorders and Post Traumatic Stress Disorder. WINTER BREAK gives facts about hypothermia and survival. I do a lot of research to make sure that the information I present in telling the story is accurate.

 What books have most influenced your life?

 What are you reading right now?
SHARP EDGES by Gillian Flynn.

 What do you like to do when you are not writing?
I’m a sculler. I row on the Schuylkill River, and unless its frozen, if I’m not at my computer, I’m probably in my boat. I love being on the water in my shell, together with the ducks and geese and turtles, moving with the current or against it, into the wind or away from it. It’s good exercise and calming salve for the mind and spirit.
 What is your favorite comfort food?
Pasta pasta pasta. Also pasta.
 What do you think makes a good story?
Suspense. Wondering what’s going to happen. But in order for me to care about what happens, I have to be invested in the characters. Plot alone doesn’t engage me. I need to be attached to the characters and then I’ll be interested in what happens to them.
Suspense doesn’t have to involve life or death—It can come from any unanswered but important question: Will the boy kiss the girl? Will the dog find his way home? Will the robbers get away? Whatever the predicament, however big or small, the story, for me, depends on the characters and how important their risks are to them. And of course, a good story always has twists.

 Who would you consider your favorite author and why?
Don’t have one. Too many to name.

Fun random questions:
• dogs or cats? Dogs
• Coffee or tea? Coffee
• Dark or milk chocolate? dark
• Rocks or flowers? Rocks
• Night or day? Day
• Favorite color? Blood red
• Crayons or markers? Markers
• Pens or pencils? Pens


The biggest trouble with Charlie is that he's dead. His soon-to-be-ex-wife, Elle Harrison, comes home from a night out with friends to find his body in her den, her kitchen knife in his back. And, oddly, Elle has no memory of her activities during the time he was killed. Another trouble with Charlie is that, even though he's dead, he doesn't seem to be gone. Elle senses Charlie's presence--a gentle kiss on the neck, the scent of his aftershave wafting through the house, a rose that seems to move from room to room on its own. And a shadow that appears to accuse her of murder--and with whom she argues. In the process of trying to prove her innocence, Elle investigates Charlie's death--and his life. A psychiatrist diagnoses her with a dissociative disorder that causes her to "space out" especially when she's under stress. This might explain the gap in her memory, but it doesn't clear her. As Elle continues to look into Charlie's life, she uncovers more and more trouble--an obsessed woman who might have been his lover. Siblings with unresolved bitter issues. A slimy untrustworthy business partner. And wealthy clients with twisted, horrific appetites. Before she knows it, Elle is involved in more murders, a struggle for her life, and a revived relationship with Charlie, whom--for all his troubles--she has come to appreciate and love only after his death.


PROLOGUE Sometime before Charlie moved out, I began reading the obituaries. It became a daily routine, like morning coffee. I didn’t just scan the listings; I read them closely, noting dates of death, ages of the deceased, names of survivors. If there were photos, I studied faces for clues about mortality even though they were often grinning and much younger than at death. Sometimes there were flags at the top of notices, signifying military service. Salvadore Petrini had a flag. Aged 64. Owner of Petrini’s Market. Beloved husband and father and stepfather and brother and uncle. Viewing and Life Celebration at St. Patrick’s Church, Malvern. Some notices were skeletal, giving no details of the lost life: Sonia Woods went to be with the Lord on August 17. Viewing Friday, from 9 to 11, First Baptist Church. Service to follow. These left me disturbed, sad for the deceased. Was there, in the end, really nothing to be said about them? Were their lives just a finite number of breaths now stopped? For weeks, I followed the flow of local deaths and funerals. I tried to surmise causes of death from requests for memorial contributions in lieu of flowers. The American Cancer Society. The Vascular Disease Foundation. The American Heart or Alzheimers Association. When there were epigraphs, I read about careers accomplished, volunteer work conducted, music played, tournaments won. Lives condensed to an eighth of a page. Less, usually. Though the notices were brief, the words and patterns of language had a gentle rolling rhythm, comforting, like prayers, like nursery rhymes. And between listings, stark and straight lines divided one death from another, putting lives neatly into boxes, separating body from body. Soul from soul. Making death quantifiable and normal, a daily occurrence neatly announced on paper in black and white, on pages dense with ink, speckled with gray smiling photos. Smiles announcing that death wasn’t really so bad. I don’t know why I was compelled to read those listings every day. At the time, I’d have said it had to be about the death of my marriage. After all, my own life, in a way, was ending. My life as Charlie’s wife was dying, but there would be no public acknowledgment of that demise. No memorial service. No community gathering to mourn. Maybe I read the listings to remember that I wasn’t the only one grieving, that others had lost even more. Still, I would have felt better if the obituary page included dead marriages and lost identities: Mrs. Charles Henry Harrison (nee Elle Brooks) ceased to exist on (date pending), when the couple’s divorce became final. Maybe it would help to have some formal recognition of the demise of my former self. Maybe not. It’s possible that my own losses brought me to the daily obits. But I doubt it. Looking back, I believe what drew me was far more ominous. A premonition. An instinct. For whatever reason, though, every morning as I chewed my English muffin, I buried myself in the death notices, studying what I could about people who were no more, trying to learn from them or their photos or their neatly structured notices anything I could about death. Of course, as it turned out, the notices were useless. None of them, not one prepared me for what was to happen. According to the obituary columns, the circumstances of one’s life made no difference in the end. Dead was simply dead. Final. Permanent. Without room for doubt. The pages I studied gave no indication of a gray area. And the boxes around the obituaries contained no dotted lines.

More about the Author:

Merry Jones is the author of THE suspense novel THE TROUBLE WITH CHARLIE, as well as the Harper Jennings thrillers (WINTER BREAK, BEHIND THE WALLS, SUMMER SESSION),and the Zoe Hayes mysteries (THE BORROWED AND BLUE MURDERS, THE DEADLY NEIGHBORS, THE RIVER KILLINGS, THE NANNY MURDERS). Jones has also written humor (including I LOVE HIM, BUT...) and non-fiction (including BIRTHMOTHERS: Women who relinquished babies for adoption tell their stories.) Jones has a regular contributor to GLAMOUR, and her work has been printed in seven languages and numerous magazines. Her short story, BLISS, appears in the anthology LIAR LIAR, a project of the Philadelphia Liars Club. In addition to the Liars, Jones is a member of Mystery Writers of America, The Authors Guild and International Thriller Writers. For the last fifteen years, she has taught writing courses at a variety of institutions, including Temple University and Delaware County Community College. She has appeared on radio and television (local and national), and participates in panel discussions and workshops regularly.

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