Meet June Lyons

 

Thanks to the Lori Rader Day for inviting me to participate in this blog hop. You can learn about the characters from her wonderful book of psychological suspense The Black Hour at her website:  http://loriraderday.com

Let me introduce you to June Lyons.

2008. I had been working on another book for three years, a historical set in post-Civil War New York City. The book was dragging, bogged down in an overcomplicated story and tangents in which I showed off my research efforts. I hated my hero. Maybe hate is too strong a word–I couldn’t connect with him or his experience in the world, and I had spent so much time with him that frankly, he was a bit of a bore. To give myself a break I wrote a short story in which a woman watches as Goodwill takes away her dying husband’s belongings. It’s his choice, not hers, but it guts her, making her want to die right along with him. She has cut herself off from the world, pushing away the friends and family who want to help her, and now it’s just him and her, and if he dies, she has no life. She spends a few minutes alone steeling herself to return to her cut-off life, smoking a cigarette to steal a few extra minutes.

 

In the time between when I wrote the short story and the manuscript for Ice Shear, June Lyons quit smoking, and as well as a lot of other bad habits. In the early version, the loss of her husband defined her wholly and completely. But I felt that I’d seen that before—the lone wolf hero, opting out of human connection, and smoking, drinking and dealing out justice (or sometimes revenge) to criminals. June shifted into something more complicated: a hero who despite the grief gets up each day and tries to do the right thing. She’s learned not to hope for much out of life, and that’s ok with her.

 

Not that June doesn’t have loner tendencies. As the book starts, she has her father and her daughter, but shies away from connections with her fellow cops, keeping the acquaintances rather than friends. She’s hiding out from life, but life hunts her down. When the daughter of a Congresswoman is found dead, June is thrust into the spotlight, and works closely with a fellow cop and a former flame in the FBI. This crime helps her remember how much she loved solving crimes, taking apart complicated puzzles and serving justice.

 

She also reconnects with herself in smaller ways. She starts to trust herself, and her humor comes back. While she may not be quite ready to forgive Hale Bascom for the way he treated her husband, he does awaken a long buried part of her that desires men: how they look, how they smell, how their shoulders look in well cut suits.

 

By the end of the story June has gone from hopeless to hopeful. After expecting nothing but grief and betrayal, she learns to trust herself and more importantly, the people around her. She has stopped spending her life digging her grave, and returned to life.

Look for Katherine Harbour and Shelly King to introduce you to their interesting protagonists!

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Shelly King is a native Southerner who packed her bags and moved to Silicon Valley at the beginning of the Internet boom. She works for a major software company as a social media strategist and information architect. Her stories have been published in the GW Review, Epiphany, Slow Trains, the Dos Passos Review, and the Coe Review. She lives in the Santa Cruz Mountains with her husband, two big dogs, and a disapproving cat.

http://shellyking.com/blog/

 

 

 

 

 

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Katherine Harbour was born in Albany, NY, where she attended the Junior College of Albany and wrote while holding down jobs as a pizza maker, video store clerk, and hotel maid. She went, briefly, to art college in Minneapolis, and sold her oil paintings of otherworldly figures in small galleries. She now lives in Sarasota, FL with a tempestuous black cat named Pooka and too many books. She works as a bookseller and dreams of autumn and winter in her stories.

http://katherineharbour.blogspot.com

Library Journal: Pushing Boundaries

Not a review, exactly, but Ice Shear is included in Library Journal’s “Pushing Boundaries”, which surveys the mystery landscape over the next few months.  With recommendations in crime novels with PIs, cowboys, animals, and supernatural element (among others), Kristi Chadwick highlights the depth and breadth of the mystery genre.  Ice Shear was included in “A Suitable Job for a Woman”,  a section that not only is a great callback to PD James, but also included titles from Karin Slaughter, Rachel Howzell Hall, and Julia Dahl.  She had this to say about Ice Shear:  “A young woman impaled on an ice shear along the Mohawk River in upstate New York brings a female FBI agent–turned–local cop into the middle of murder, drugs, and politics in M.P. Cooley’s debut Ice Shear (Morrow, Jul.). Readers will find the juxtaposition of June Lyon’s family and work life comparable to J.A. Jance’s Joanna Brady series.”

I’m delighted to be included with such a great group of books, and have some great titles to look forward to once I’m finished with book two!

For those who don’t read books . . .

I’m excited to announce that the audio rights for my book have been sold to Blackstone.  The audio book will be released on the same day as the hardcover and ebook, good news for people like me who like to “read” in the car, or who are not big readers (*cough* my sister *cough*).

An exciting week of firsts!

leftcoastcrimeI figured a good way to kick off my blog would be to share my exciting week of “firsts”. The big first was attending Left Coast Crime, my first conference as an author. I have been so focused on writing Ice Shear and its sequel, and the opportunity to be around my fellow authors (and fellow readers!) was just the shot in the arm I needed.  Plus, the locale was amazing. Sometimes I forget that I have the beach only an hour away. Of course, Campbell doesn’t have sea lions.

There were so many highlights that I struggle to pick just a few, but here are a few standouts for me:

1. My first panel.  When I got the word that I would be participating on the Deadly New Voices panel, I was thrilled, followed by a bit of panic that came from wondering what in the world I was going to say that could help the audience. There was no reason to worry. Our audience made us feel at home, and my fellow panelists Lori Radar-Day, Sherry Novinger Harris, Carlene O’Neil, and Holly West were delightful and smart. We all shared what it was like to find an agent or publisher, and none of us had straightforward paths to success: there were failed novels in most of our pasts, reworking, revising, and all those other “r” activities. The thing we all had in common? We never gave up.

2. Inspiration.  When I was in high school, I picked up Sue Grafton’s C is for Corpse. I was one of those kids who read everything she could get her hands on, but Sue Grafton’s book was the first where I thought I want to write books like this. Sue Grafton was charming a delightful, and she gave a great tip that was really helpful as I tackle my second book: listen to my shadow self, that voice that tells me the story to tell, even when it isn’t safe or wise.

The other source of inspiration was the award winners. Seeing some of my favorite authors and favorite books honored, including Louise Penny, Cara Black, Brad Parks, Catriona McPherson, William Kent Kreuger, reminded me how wonderful the best mysteries are in the strength of their writing, the depth of their characters, and how their heroes wrestle with huge life and death issues.

3. Great panels. Sue Grafton was just the start of the great panels. After going through the painful process of picking just one in each time slot, I attended some great sessions that changed the way I thought about female heroes, how location can add to the tension of your story, forensics, and even sex scenes, which proved to be the funniest panel of the conference.

4. A book signing. That high pitched squealing sound you heard on Friday afternoon? That was me doing my first “book” signing.  William Morrow sent along 50 advanced readers, and I got to sit beside some of my idols and sign them for the crowd. Probably none of the signatures were legible—my hands were shaking—but I managed to make it through the signing, grinning all the way.

A pretty exciting week for me! This week I return to my laptop, working on the revisions of my second book. I’ll be digging into it with extra energy, though, carried along by the fantastic weekend at Left Coast Crime!