I’m happy to present my interview with Liah Penn. Her book Pure Death is the first book in the futuristic Ina Stone and Sam Fujimoto Mystery series! It’s a romantic suspense/mystery that delivers a wild ride!
(blurb and excerpt below)
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Hi, Liah. Thanks for stopping by to talk a little about your writing! Let’s jump right in. So when did you begin writing and why?
I have been writing since I was ten years old and created a picture book series about a man named “Mr. Bee” who had all sorts of adventures with the neighborhood kids, like the zoo. I never stopped, however, I did take a pretty big break from writing when my children were little.
What is your writing process like?
I write every day. It’s the only way to keep the momentum going. I start by identifying the main premise of my novel, then choose my characters. I have a worksheet that I use to identify their motivations and their backgrounds. I often work late into the night.
Are there specific challenges that writers face as opposed to other artists?
I am also a visual artist and I paint. I can start and finish a piece in a day, and there’s immediate gratification with having completed a piece. If you are writing a novel, it’s completely different; months go by before anyone even sees your first draft.
Writer’s block—real or hype?
I can honestly say that I never have writer’s block because when I come to a sort of impasse, I write through it, even if it ends up being kind of crappy on the page. That’s why you edit. I think every writer is different.
Do you prefer to extensively plot your stories, or do you write them as they come to you?
Sadly, I am not an extensive plotter, I’m more of a “panters” and write by the seat of my pants. That can backfire, though, so I created a worksheet, single page, that keeps me on track. I have a general idea of the sequence of events but I don’t outline chapter by chapter.
Any advice to writers just starting out?
Just keep writing. I wrote 3 full length novels with lots of holes before I felt I had a product that I could pitch at a conference. Each novel is easier, but getting through the first few is tough and they probably aren’t publishable.
Thanks again for stopping by, Liah! Readers can discover more about Liah Penn here:
An Ina Stone and Sam Fujimoto Mystery
Genre: Futuristic/Romantic Suspense
Word Count: 65,312
Page Count: 311
Release Date: 12-16-2014
An Impure world, a perfect murder…
A murdered society debutante, her body sprinkled with 89 Costa Rican butterflies. A headless, gutted corpse washed up on shore with a beautiful, dead teenager. The case is anything but straightforward, and in an uncertain future, where resources are limited and the genetically defective are banished to a ghetto territory for Impures, Chief Detective Ina Stone and her partner, rookie detective Sam Fujimoto, must cross into Pure Territory to find a killer. An Impure herself, Ina must overcome her defect. And when her life is threatened, she must learn to rely on Sam, whose interest in her seems more than just professional.
Yet the Pures may have created a world in which even they don’t want to live anymore. Resources have become too scarce to hide, and a black market for medicine comes to light. When a third murder is discovered, Ina and Sam know there’s a connection. With too many suspects and not enough time, they must find that connection before the killer strikes again.
Buy Pure Death here
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An Excerpt from Pure Death
Melker had the tent and screens up when we arrived, but it didn’t keep out the rain, nor the stench of a decomposing body from reaching us as we approached. Even with a clean suit and mask protecting me, I could tell that the decomposition was pretty well advanced. The unsecured edges of the crime scene tent snapped in the wind. I pulled aside the flap and went in.
“Ina,” Melker said, nodding to me. I took a pen and notepad from my pocket and propped it on the crook of my left arm. “Not much to work with, I’m afraid.” He held the tip of a thermometer in what was left of some body cavity. “Who’s that?” he added, gesturing to a figure outside.
“New guy, Sam Fujimoto. From Replacements.” I glanced through the gaps in the tent at my new partner as he zipped up his own clean suit.
“About a week.” I breathed through my mouth. The stench was pretty bad.
“He might want to stay out.”
“Think it’ll scare him?” I asked.
“Would it have scared you?”
I shrugged. “Male or female?”
Melker looked at me for a moment and then removed the thermometer. “There doesn’t appear to be any core temperature. Not that I’m surprised, but one has to be thorough,” he said in his peculiar, formal manner. He wiped it down and placed it into his metal case.
“Melker?” I said. “Male? Female? Human?”
The flap opened behind me and I heard Sam Fujimoto as he entered. He coughed, trying to disguise a gag.
“You okay?” I asked.
“Just give me a minute.” His eyes were watery and his skin pallid. I could tell he was struggling. It was probably his first time viewing a dead body, at least one as badly decomposed as this one.
“Male,” said Melker, answering my question. “Decapitated, no genitals, not sure if they were removed intentionally or not. There’s also lots of nibbling by animals. I expect it’ll be tough to identify this poor soul without a jaw for dental comparison.”
“Cause of death?” The body was literally falling off the bones, the skin sloughing off in sheets as Melker manipulated it.
“Don’t know yet. Hmm, no hands, either. I thought they were under the body, but here, Ina, give me a…help me here…”
I started to put my notepad away, but Sam stepped in.
“No, I’ll help.”
Together, he and Melker lifted the body’s shoulder and side to disentangle the arm. There was no hand trapped underneath the torso, but there was something else, something shiny, and I crouched down to reach under the body.
“Here.” I picked up a slender chain with a long pen-like item hanging from it. It was discolored, probably from soaking in body fluids, and it appeared to have come from the body. “Maybe it has some identifying features.” I gave it to Melker, who quickly bagged it. He handed the bag back to me. The crime scene techs were outside the tent with flashlights so I tucked it into my pocket to turn in later. He and Sam let the body back down gently onto the dirt.
“I don’t believe he died here,” Melker said, “and it certainly wasn’t natural, but apart from that, it’ll take me some time.”
“How do you know he didn’t die here?” Sam asked. He was breathing through his mouth.
“Well, apart from the fact that he doesn’t seem to have his head, hands, or penis?” Melker asked.
“No blood,” I responded.
Melker nodded. Even with the body fluids, the amount of blood at death, assuming a traumatic injury, would have flooded the ground and left a trace. The only thing here were the fluids of decomposition. I wondered how the body got here, and whether the absence of a head was due to a propeller injury from the ships that traversed the Mississippi River, only a few feet from us.
I unzipped the tent, exited, and then whipped off the headgear. I gulped in a few breaths as I strode away. Sam was right behind me. I might have pretended it hadn’t bothered me, but I had been physically sick many times at the sight of a dead and mutilated body. This one was pretty bad and I was thankful for the fresh air, even in the rain.
“Detective!” Sam called out to me.
I tried to keep my tone light as I responded. “Put your gear in the barrel. They’ll transport it to the station.”
“I think I need a drink.” He touched my shoulder, forcing me to turn and look at him. He towered over me, a good six feet to my five foot four inches, his shoulders broad, his hips narrow and lean. His face glistened under a sheen of perspiration.
“Go over there.” I pointed toward a rusted-out fifty gallon drum. “No one will notice if you throw up. And don’t mess up the crime scene.”