Friday, March 30, 2018

{Character Interview} Frank Swiver of 'Last Puffs'





We’re thrilled to be talking to Frank Swiver from Harley Mazuk’s, Last Puffs.  It is a pleasure to have him with us today at Pimp That Character!


Thank you for your interview, Mr. Swiver.  How old are you and what do you do for a living?

You can call me Frank. Last Puffs opens in 1938 when I was in Aragón, fighting with the Loyalists against Franco’s army. I was 25 and had been unemployed when I signed up with the Abe Lincoln brigade. At the end of the book in San Francisco in 1949, I’m 36. I’m a private investigator, doing business as Old Vine Detective Agency. I’ve only been in business for myself for a few years, but I started working as an unlicensed p.i. back in 1942, mostly investigative work for my college pal, Max Rabinowitz. Max is a mouthpiece, and a good one.

What would I love the most about you?

It’s hard to say; I hardly know you. But what I’m most proud of is that I’m a pacifist. Believe me, it takes courage to be non-violent in world like ours, especially working as a private eye, a job where you meet ruthless, nefarious characters.

Where do you go when you are angry?

The easy answer is I like to go to the Black Lizard Lounge, a dive bar south of the slot with a good wine list. I can walk there from my office, and you’ll usually find me there for lunch or after work two or three times a week. 

But when I really think about your question, I remember something I once read about General Grant. What did he do that enabled him to defeat Robert E. Lee where so many others—McDowell, McClellan, Ambrose Burnside, Joe Hooker—failed? He went after Lee, and then, win or lose, Grant stayed in contact with the Army of Northern Virginia until he defeated it. I go after the cause of my anger and I keep after it until the anger’s gone. 

What is your idea of a perfect day?

I’m sitting in my office and a client, a dame, comes in. She has dark hair, dark eyes, long legs, a knockout figure. Maybe she’s scared, lost, and needing help. She comes in tentatively and says, "Are you the detective?"
"That’s me, sister. Frank Swiver, at your service."
"I'm in awful trouble, Mr. Swiver."
"Sit down, sweetheart," I'd say. "You've come to the right place. Trouble is my specialty. Tell me about it." I reach into the “R” drawer of my filing cabinet and take out a bottle of “Red” and pour us a couple glasses. I listen, I speak to her soothingly, confidently. Soon she’s calm, she trusts me. Now if it’s really a perfect day, she’ll be carrying plenty of cash and she pays me for a week’s work in advance.

What are three must haves when shopping at the grocery store?

I always buy bacon, eggs, and coffee. I’m a breakfast guy. I know it would be four items, but can I grab a loaf of sourdough bread too, for toast?


Are you a loner or do you prefer to surround yourself with friends?

There’s no question that I’m a lonely guy. There’s the occasional dame who helps me forget my loneliness for a few hours, or a night. I’d love to have some friends to sit with me, to drink wine, to smoke, to laugh, but I don’t.

Who is your best friend?

There’s only Max. I met Max Rabinowitz in college at Berkeley. In 1934 my lover, Cicilia Ricci, dumped me and married an ex-gangster Rusty O’Callaghan. I started slipping into darkness at the bottom of a bottle of red wine, until Max finally saved me. In ’37, Max, who’s a Red, by the way, took me to a meeting at Berkeley about the Abe Lincoln brigade. By the end of the night we’d both signed up and we spent the next year and a half in Spain. Max save me from drinking myself to death here, and I saved his life when he was wounded in Spain. We’ve had our ups and downs since them, but our bond is a strong one.

Do you have children?

Funny you should ask. I didn’t see Cicilia from the time she left me in ’34 until we met again during the Thursby case in ‘48, (White with Fish, Red with Murder http://www.harleymazuk.com/books-and-other-writings.html). Cici was a widow by then, having disposed of Rusty with a poison mushroom omelet, and we got back together for about a week. Then the night she died, she told me she’d been pregnant when we split up, and that I was the father of her daughter, Brigid, who was going on 14 then. I’m also raising Rusty’s kid, Brigid’s younger sister, Meaghan.

What is your favorite weather?

I like sun and mild temperatures with low humidity. The San Francisco climate is good. One time in July, I spent the night in Max’s cabin, about 7,000 feet up in the Sierras. When I woke up, there was frost on the ground. Frost in July! But it felt great.

What’s your idea of a perfect meal?

Well, you know about the bacon, eggs, sourdough toast, and java. But that’s just breakfast. For dinner, I like a rib-eye steak, a side of spuds, and a bottle of Zinfandel. 

Thanks for having me on your blog!

Title: Last Puffs
Genre: Mystery (private eye)
Author: Harley Mazuk

About the Author

Harley Mazuk was born in Cleveland, the last year that the Indians won the World Series. He majored in English literature at Hiram College in Ohio, and Elphinstone College, Bombay, India. Harley worked as a record salesman (vinyl) and later served the U.S. Government in Information Technology and in communications, where he honed his writing style as an editor and content provider for official web sites.

Retired now, he likes to write pulp fiction, mostly private eye stories, several of which have appeared in Ellery Queen Mystery Magazine. His first full length novel, White with Fish, Red with Murder, was released in 2017, and his newest, Last Puffs, just came out in January 2018.

Harley’s other passions are his wife Anastasia, their two children, reading, running, Italian cars, California wine and peace.

WEBSITE & SOCIAL LINKS:

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About the Book:

Title: LAST PUFFS
Author: Harley Mazuk
Publisher: New Pulp Press
Pages: 293
Genre: Mystery/Crime/Private Eye

BOOK BLURB:
Frank Swiver and his college pal, Max Rabinowitz, both fall in love with Amanda Zingaro, courageous Republican guerilla, in the Spanish civil war. But the local fascists murder her and her father.

Eleven years later in San Francisco in 1949, Frank, traumatized by the violence in Spain, has become a pacifist and makes a marginal living as a private eye. Max who lost an eye in Spain but owes his life to Frank, has pledged Frank eternal loyalty. He’s a loyal communist party member and successful criminal attorney.

Frank takes on a case for Joan Spring, half-Chinese wife of a wealthy banker. Joan seduces Frank to ensure his loyalty. But Frank busts up a prostitution/white slavery ring at the Lotus House a brothel in Chinatown, where Joan was keeping refugees from Nanking prisoners.

Then Max sees a woman working in a Fresno cigar factory, who is a dead ringer for Amanda, and brings in Frank, who learns it is Amanda. She has tracked the fascists who killed her father and left her for dead from her village in Spain to California. Amanda wants Frank to help her take revenge. And by the way, she says the ten-year-old boy with her is Frank’s son.

Joan Spring turns out to be a Red Chinese secret agent, and she’s drawn a line through Max’s name with a pencil. Can Frank save Max again? Can he help Amanda avenge her father when he’s sworn off violence? Can he protect her from her target’s daughter, the sadistic Veronica Rios-Ortega? Join Frank Swiver in the swift-moving story, Last Puffs.

Praise:

February 10, 2018
Format: Kindle Edition| Verified Purchase
Frank Swiver is a detective. Murder investigations are his specialty. He likes wine, loose women and fast cars. Not necessarily in that order. Swiver inhabits an earlier world that is archaic and, without doubt, politically incorrect by today’s standards. Harley Mazuk recreates in Swiver a character from another era whose story is fun and entertaining. Mazuk has an impressive knowledge of wines and cars which permeate his narrative. As to his knowledge of women, I am not competent to judge. I do know that the geography and time period portrayed is well researched. There are many twists and turns to the plot as well as an injection of espionage that keeps the reader guessing. Fans of old fashion detective novels will enjoy this book. I know, I did.
-- Amazon Reviewer

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{Character Interview} Alexa Wainwright of 'When a Stranger Comes...'





We’re thrilled to be talking to Alexa Wainwright from Karen S. Bell’s, When a Stranger Comes...  It is a pleasure to have her with us today at Pimp That Character!

Thank you for your interview, Alexa Wainwright.  How old are you and what do you do for a living?

I’m 31 and I’m an author of fiction to empower women.

Can you tell us about one of your most distinguishable features?

I’m tall

Where do you go when you are angry?

Take a bath

What is your greatest fear?

To become a midlist author

What is your idea of a perfect day?

Good food, good sex, good weather

What are three must haves when shopping at the grocery store?

Wine, wine, and wine

Are you a loner or do you prefer to surround yourself with friends?

Loner

Who is your best friend?

I have one colleague, my editor, Margaret, who has become my only friend.

What’s your idea of a perfect meal?

Kosher deli

What is your most treasured possession?

Chihuly hand-blown glass bowl

About the Author

When a Stranger Comes…is Ms. Bell’s third novel. Her debut, Walking with Elephants, was initially published by a small publisher who went out of business. Subsequently, she took over as an indie publisher. It went on to win the Awesome Indies Seal of Excellence and was a top-five finalist in the Kindle Book Review’s 2012 contest for the best indie books. Sunspots, her second novel, was awarded the IndiePENdents.org Seal of Approval for good writing. She holds a Master of Science in Mass Communication and for 15 years, she was an editor/copyeditor for a "Big Four" public accounting firm. Ms. Bell was also technical editor for an accounting industry magazine. 
 Here are some reviews of her previous work published in the Florida Times Union:

WEBSITE & SOCIAL LINKS:

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About the Book:

Achieving what you crave can also bring the terrifying fear of losing it. For Alexa Wainwright, this truth has become her nightmare. Born Gladys Lipschitz, the daughter of an unwed Soviet-era Jewish immigrant, her debut novel, A Foregone Conclusion, soared to number one on the bestseller’s list and
became an international sensation. The accompanying fame and riches were beyond her expectations. Unfortunately, her subsequent work has yet to achieve the same reception by critics and readers. Yes, they have sold well based on her name recognition, but she dreads the possibility of becoming a mid-list author forgotten and ignored. She vows to do whatever it takes to attain the heady ego-stroking success of her debut. But is she really?

Witnessing an out-of-the-blue lightning bolt whose giant tendrils spread over the blue sky and city streets below her loft window, Alexa doesn’t realize just how this vow will be tested as she’s magically transported to an alternate reality. In this universe, the characters from her books are given the breath of life and she meets publisher, King Blakemore, who just might be the Devil himself. At first, she shrugs off her doubts about this peculiar publisher and very lucrative book deal offer because the temptation of riches and refound fame is too strong. But all too soon, Alexa realizes she’s trapped in an underworld of evil from which she desperately wants to escape. For starters, she finds herself in an iron-clad book contract that changes its wording whenever she thinks of a loophole. Desperate to get her life back, she devises schemes to untether herself from this hellish existence. She’s also aided by the forces for good who attempt to help her. However, King Blakemore is cleverer and more powerful than she can begin to understand. Playfully, he decides to give Alexa a second chance to save herself from eternity with him and to be free. He offers her the prospect of a rewrite, as most authors do as part of the writing process. Given this chance, will Alexa make the same choices and the same mistakes again?

Alexa, as the MC, is relatable, likable, and vulnerable with a keen sense of humor. Her world is very small because writing is her life and so she is an easy target for entrapment. Her pact with the Devil is an allegory for the evil lurking in our midst. The social decay of modern society with its excessive greed, the ignorance of our political leaders, and our indifference toward the survival of all species from the effects of climate change, among other environmental pressures, are perhaps brought forth by the darkest forces of human nature.
When A Stranger Comes is available at Amazon.


{Character Interview} James Calvin Riley of 'A Collection of Twisted Tales'




We’re thrilled to be talking to James Calvin Riley from Kraig Dafoe, A Collection of Twisted Tales.  It is a pleasure to have him with us today at Pimp That Character!

Thank you for your interview, Mr. Riley.  How old are you and what do you do for a living?

First of all, it’s inspector Riley, which I believe answers the latter part of your question, but you can call me James. As for the prior portion of your inquiry, I am older than I look and younger than I feel.


What would I hate the most about you?

I find what most people hate about me is the unquestionable fact that I am always right. Some say I am arrogant, conceded, and or narcissistic, but for any of those things to be true, one would have to prove me wrong, and that has yet to occur.

Where do you go when you are angry?

I seldom find myself angry, though from time to time, when things don’t quite add up, I like to retire to the sanctity of my study, a quiet peaceful place where I can puff away on my pipe and reflect.

What is your most treasured possession?

Material things come and go, but what I’ve held dear to my heart since I was very young, is a locket with the picture of my mother, who passed away when I was three.

What is your greatest fear?

Well, there is no doubt that I fear some miscreant will get away from justice due to a mistake made by yours truly, for that is something of which I’m not sure I could live with.

Do you think the author portrayed you accurately?

I’m sure the author did what he could though my story is narrated through the eyes of my assistant and loyal friend, Christian Bledsoe.

What is your idea of a perfect day?

I suppose a perfect day would be one with no misdeeds done and the peaceful quiet that accompanies good fortune.


Are you a loner or do you prefer to surround yourself with friends?

I think for the most part, I am a loner though the occasional gathering of friends is not foreign to me.

When you were a child, what did you want to be when you grew up?

I wanted to be what I am. I was always a fan of Chevalier C Auguste Dupin and his clone, Sherlock Holmes.


If you knew you were going to die tomorrow, what would you do today?

I would pray for the day to never end.

About the Author

Kraig Dafoe was born in Potsdam, New York and grew up in Canton. He played high school football and joined the Army Reserves at the age of seventeen. 

Kraig has earned his BA in English writing and graduated cum laude from Washburn University in 2017.

Kraig has published two novels and published poetry. He is currently working on another writing project.

His current novel is A Collection of Twisted Tales.
You can visit his website at http://www.kraigdafoe.com.

About the Book:

Title: A COLLECTION OF TWISTED TALES
Author: Craig Dafoe
Publisher: Createspace
Pages: 114
Genre: Short Story Collection / Thriller

BOOK BLURB:
Most of these stories have one thing in common, death. Although death is the common thread, there is nothing common in the way that it comes about.
This collection is chock full of interesting characters scattered among various settings that inspire the imagination, such as a Lavish English mansion or the dark interior of a rundown home.
This book is inspired by and written in the style of, Edgar Allan Poe.

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PRAISE:
"A Collection of Twisted Tales is an ambitious project that testifies to the author's appreciation of Edgar Allan Poe's fiction in particular. In this collection, Kraig Dafoe offers a creative homage with many original ideas and unexpected twists."
Professor Vanessa Steinroetter, PHD

Thursday, March 8, 2018

{Character Interview} Leilani Torres of Welcome Reluctant Stranger



We’re thrilled to be talking to Leilani Torres from Evy Journey’s Welcome Reluctant Stranger.  It is a pleasure to have her with us today at Pimp That Character!
Thank you for your interview, Leilani.  How old are you and what do you do for a living?
I’m 27 and I work as a clinical psychologist.
Can you tell us about one of your most distinguishable features?
I suppose you could say it’s my dusky skin and dark thick hair. I was born on one of those Pacific Islands conquered at various times by both European and Asian powers and that mix shows in my
features.
Where do you go when you are angry?
To the gym to work it out.
What is in your refrigerator right now?
Not much. Bottles of water. Leftovers from dishes my mother makes and which she packs for me to take home to my apartment because she knows I get too busy and too stressed out to cook.
What is your most treasured possession?
My father’s photograph. We were separated when I was nine and it’s the only thing I have to remind myself of him and the times I used to sit on his lap as he told me, my older brother and sister stories he made up on the spot. I don’t even know where he is or if he’s still alive.
What is your greatest fear?
That I may not be able to accept what became of my father after hearing my mother’s story of why he did not flee our old country with us. That I’ve nurtured this fantasy of who he really is. I can’t reconcile that new image with my impression of him as a young child.
What is your idea of a perfect day?
I’m so busy listening and empathizing with my clients that a perfect day for me is one I lavish on myself, ending with a nice warm soak in my tub.
Are you a loner or do you prefer to surround yourself with friends?
I guess you can call me a loner because I generally prefer my own company after a day of work, being absorbed in other people’s problems.
Who is your best friend?
Before I met Justin, no one really. Unless you count my mother. I may say a couple of catty things about her but she’s loving and understanding and we do get along quite well.
When you were a child, what did you want to be when you grew up?
I wanted to help others the way my father did as a doctor. He healed bodies, but I’m more interested in the psyche.
About the Author

Evy Journey, SPR (Self Publishing Review) Independent Woman Author awardee, is a writer, a wannabe artist, and a flâneuse. Her pretensions to being a flâneuse means she wishes she lives in Paris where people have perfected the art of aimless roaming. She’s lived in Paris few times as a transient.
She's a writer because beautiful prose seduces her and existential angst continues to plague her even though such preoccupations have gone out of fashion. She takes occasional refuge by invoking the spirit of Jane Austen and spinning tales of love, loss, and finding one’s way—stories into which she weaves mystery or intrigue and sets in various locales.
In a previous life, armed with a Ph.D. and fascinated by the psyche, she researched and shepherded  the development of mental health programs. And wrote like an academic. Not a good thing if you want to sound like a normal person. So, she began to write fiction (mostly happy fiction) as an antidote.
Her latest book is Welcome Reluctant Stranger.

WEBSITE & SOCIAL LINKS:

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About the Book:


Title: WELCOME RELUCTANT STRANGER
Author: Evy Journey
Publisher: Sojourner Books
Pages: 314
Genre: Multicultural Women’s Fiction

BOOK BLURB:
What happens when a brokenhearted computer nerd and culinary whiz gets rescued by a relationship phobic psychologist with a past that haunts her? For Leilani and Justin, it’s an attraction they can’t deny but which each is reluctant to pursue. More so for Leilani whose family had to flee their troubled country when she was only nine.
Leilani is focused on leaving the past behind, moving forward. But when she learns the truth behind her family’s flight—the shocking, shameful secret about her father’s role in a deadly political web—she is devastated.
Is her father a hero or a villain?  Can she deal with the truth?
But the past is impossible to run away from. Together with Justin, she must get her father out of her former home. Can she forgive her father, accept him for what he is? And can she reconnect with her roots and be at peace with who she is?

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