Question Grab Bag: Tommy, Jen and Amanda in The San Francisco Mystery Series

By ALEXI VENICE

 

By ALEXI VENICE

My blog post is about books this week because I was immersed in finalizing Stabscotch, The San Francisco Mystery Series, Book 3. I just emailed it to my professional editor, Rob Bignell, for the final substantive review and smackdown. He’ll return it in a few weeks, then I’ll spend the rest of my life incorporating his edits, regretting that I started writing books in the first place.

No seriously, writing thrills me, and I value all of my editors’ input.

Grab a glass of wine before you read the rest of this post. Yes, I’m writing this post while drinking a glass of wine myself. Don’t expect a BIG REVEAL. I’m as deep as a 12-foot pool. Let’s get comfortable in our favorite chairs and answer some questions readers have emailed me recently that I haven’t had time to answer because I’ve been focusing only on project completion—no distractions.

The most popular question after someone reads one of my books is: Will there be a sequel? Is this part of a series?

Yes! I guess I’m into writing a series. There’s the Pepper McCallan Series and now The San Francisco Mystery Series. I thought Australia’s Starr might turn into a series, but I’d have to go back to Australia for a month for that to happen. Plus, it’s a weird little book steeped in politics and contemporary fantasy. (I don’t hear the muses talking to me in fantasy lately.)

When a storyline populates my imagination, I don’t know how many books it will fill. I’ve mistakenly thought I could tap out a story in one book then learned it would take two. Personally, I feel like I don’t get to know the characters as well as I’d like to in only one book. I’m curious to see how they’ll confront internal and external obstacles that life throws at them, and you need a few books to do that.

I’m in love with Tommy, Jen and Amanda, so I decided to write a book from each of their perspectives. Bourbon Chase is from Jen, the doctor’s perspective. Amanda’s Dragonfly is from Amanda, the District Attorney’s perspective. And, Stabscotch is from Tommy, the detective’s perspective.

We rotate back to Jen’s perspective in Tinted Chapstick. Rotating points of view is challenging and fun for me. I like immersing myself in each of their minds, really developing each character’s personality—his/her quirks, desires, work life, how each really feels about the other two. All the stuff that makes a person tick.

Next question: After reading your Author Bio and Blog, I learned you’re not gay. Why do you write LGBTQ mystery fiction?

It’s true. The love of my life and object of my sexual desires—pause for a drink of wine here—is Bill. We’ve been married 28 years.

Belize - mayan tomb

However, here’s why I love writing about Tommy, Jen and Amanda. I have less control over what I write than what you might think. The analytical side of my brain seeks out mystery and adventure with tricky twists and turns. The creative side of my brain goes with the flow of characters, their feelings and relationships. I love writing romance about a variety of people. (It can’t all be about the 30-year-old cowboy in tight jeans who pins the 28-year-old city girl in a halter top against a wall in the dusty barn, can it?)

I’ve read quite a few books in the LGBTQ genres of both romance and mystery, and I think I can bring something to the table in terms of substantive plots, complex characters and an original turn of phrase.

After tiptoeing into a relationship between Jen and Amanda in Bourbon Chase, I knew I had to continue following their love affair. I barely explored the depth of their characters in the first book, so I had to mature with them, holding their relationship dear and sacred.

I respected and admired Jen so much for her discipline and courage. Then I wondered whether she would be emotionally labile in her relationship with Amanda or emerge as the more level-headed and balanced person of the duo.

When I pivoted to Amanda’s perspective in Amanda’s Dragonfly (Book 2), I was shocked at what a sea of misgivings, doubt and insecurity she is. Amanda is also prone to obsession and addiction. As fabulous and powerful as she is, she’s horribly vulnerable—to what? We find out in Stabscotch. Writing about how she loses her way when under pressure in Amanda’s Dragonfly, then fights back, gave me the opportunity to challenge her.

I can’t say that I can control or direct where Tommy, Jen and Amanda go with their relationships and careers. Their stories come to me like scenes in a movie, and I try my best to write them into a coherent and interesting novel. Sometimes, I’m as surprised as you are when I transcribe their drama onto the page.

Some people wanted Amanda to make better choices in Amanda’s Dragonfly. I apologize if that’s what you were looking for, because that isn’t the way her destiny populated the pages as I wrote it. I simply followed her into the adventures and wrote her feelings and decisions, as she made them in the moment.

 Another subject of multiple emails: Some people told me they felt like Jen never really grieved her relationship with Tommy—that she left him too quickly. (Pausing to pour a second glass of wine here. You get one, too, and I’ll meet you back here in a few minutes.)

I get that Jen dropped Tommy in Bourbon Chase (and he’s a reliable guy), but she was so in love with Amanda that she had to act on it. Let’s not forget—she did spend a few hours swimming and crying over him at the beach. However, hang in there because I predict that Jen and Tommy’s relationship will evolve and deepen throughout the series— starting in Stabscotch (Book 3).

When does the next book come out? Will it be about Pepper McCallan or Tommy, Jen and Amanda?

 Stabscotch, (Book 3) was released in January 2018. Since that book needed a sequel, I wrote Tinted Chapstick (Book 4) right away. It will be released in March 2018. I can’t predict what I will write next, and I don’t want to jinx myself. (I have adopted a fair amount of superstition about the muses. For example, I absolutely, positively have to be wearing my San Francisco Giants baseball cap in order to write The San Francisco Mystery Series.)

manuscript editing

Reyka, Erin, Sherry, Mik, Myself and Susan

For the fourth book in the series, Tinted Chapstick, I rotated back to Jen’s point of view. I fell in love with her all over again, and really admire the way she handles herself in the face of adversity in both her relationships and at the clinic, where crazy shit happens on a daily basis. She’s loving and compassionate—her trademark features—but she won’t be a doormat for Amanda either.

As for the Pepper McCallan Series, I have Loch Na Pollach half written, and I really look forward to cozying up in my recliner someday to see how Brent and Pepper solve the next terrorist threat.

I could talk about this stuff all night, but since I’m at the bottom of my wine glass and it’s time for bed, I’m closing my laptop. Thanks for your questions. Keep them coming!

Here’s the book cover and Story Description for Tinted Chapstick, The San Francisco Mystery Series, Book 4. To be released in March.

 Tinted Chapstick - final - 2-12-18

A suspenseful romance nestled in The San Francisco Mystery Series.

Temporarily living with Detective Tommy Vietti, Dr. Jen Dawson is frustrated with her romantic life. She discovers a new interest at the CrossFit box, but wonders why she keeps thinking about her ex-lover, District Attorney Amanda Hawthorne, while cultivating a relationship with a CrossFit goddess.

As Jen works through her feelings, she finds herself managing her frustrated boss—Dr. Melissa Cohen—and the daily drama that’s served up by angry patients, wild animals and confidential information made public at the Cohen Clinic.

Worst of all, she’s asked by Amanda’s campaign manager to defend Amanda after their HEA—hellish ending to an affair—during a contentious campaign for re-election to DA. Jen will be damned before she’ll turn into the abused political wife, standing by “her woman” after she’s fooled around on her. Yet, with just a short TV interview, Jen could clear up a mischaracterization of Amanda’s actions…

And, why won’t Roxy MacNeil, the Scottish MI-6 agent, leave San Francisco? Why must she continue working at the Hall of Justice, so close to Amanda?

To make matters worse, Tommy expresses his true feelings late one night, upsetting the emotional equilibrium in their co-parenting relationship.

Who will Jen choose? The CrossFit goddess, Amanda, Tommy, or none of the above?

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