The Tao of Doo

In his kind and generous review of my first mystery, DEATH NOTICE, author James Reasoner said the plot was vaguely reminiscent of something found in Scooby-Doo, only played seriously. He meant it as a compliment and I took it Read more


Another October, another release date. Since BAD MOON is my second book, you would think I'd be used to it. But nope, I'm not. BAD MOON's publication date feels as surreal as DEATH NOTICE's did last year. For readers, the Read more

Writing With ... Louise Penny

I am thrilled beyond words to welcome one of my favorite writers, Louise Penny, whose Armand Gamache mysteries have appeared on bestseller lists worldwide.  Her last book, BURY YOUR DEAD, won the Ellis for best mystery in Canada, and Read more

Is Browsing Dead?

I'll be the first to admit that I was a nerdy teenager. Not pocket protector nerdy, but no sports star, either. I was bookish, I guess you could say. I read A LOT back then, and nothing pleased me Read more

Why We Left Earth

Outer space has always been a mystery. Even before mankind fully grasped its vastness, they wanted to go there. Early astronomers, fascinated by the stars, invented ways to get a closer view. Think Copernicus, Galileo, Cassini. Writers not content Read more

Writing With … Lynn Sheene

Posted on by Todd Posted in Writing With | Comments Off on Writing With … Lynn Sheene

Today, I welcome Lynn Sheene, whose debut novel, THE LAST TIME I SAW PARIS, will be released on Tuesday. A graduate of UC Santa Barbara, Lynn lives in Southern California with her husband and dog. She is currently working on her next novel set in wartime France. You can visit her online at

Q. Tell us about your book and what inspired you to write it.

THE LAST TIME I SAW PARIS is about a young Jazz-Age Manhattan socialite who heads to Paris to escape her secret past, only to find herself swept up in the danger and drama of the French Resistance.

I’ve loved Paris as well as the 1930’s and 1940’s for many years. Then about five years ago, I found a French Art Deco brooch and wondered about its past. As I began to dig into what was going on in France during the German Occupation, I was captivated by the intrigue, darkness and danger as well as the heroism and the beauty. I HAD to write a novel based in that era!

Q. Did you need to do any special research for the book? If so, what’s one of the most interesting facts you discovered?

I’ve spent hours online, I’ve read stacks of memoirs and news accounts. But, of course, the best part of the research is France itself. I’ve gone to Paris a number of times for research. In fact, I recently returned from a month in Paris researching the second book. The trips are wonderful. Paris is, in a way, timeless, so I can walk the sidewalks, visit the parks, eat in the same cafes as people did 70 years ago. I visit archives and dig out old photos and maps. It is great fun and so easy to lose days searching for the smallest detail. But the best part are the surprises. What you see or hear that you weren’t thinking of that you love so much that it becomes part of the story.

I have found so many interesting facts, to be honest, it would take a book to list them. What amazes me, though, are how so many of the Resistants in Paris were normal people like us. Not trained soldiers, they were men and women, students and writers, businessmen and homemakers. And yet they risked their lives day after day.

Q. Many people are content to just be readers. How did you become a writer?

I always loved stories and wanted to be a writer. When I was young, I wrote many short stories that never saw the light of day. In college, I studied screenwriting and wrote several screenplays, but realized that wasn’t my best format and ran out of steam for a while. When THE LAST TIME I SAW PARIS sparked in my imagination, I was ready to write a novel, no matter what it took.

Q. What do you like to do when you’re not writing?

I love to read (of course), travel, garden, watch old movies and contemplate what color to paint my office walls.

Q. What are you reading right now?

I am researching my current book, also based in German-occupied France, so I am working my way through a large pile of nonfiction specific to that story.

Q. If you were stranded on that proverbial deserted island, what five books would you want to have with you?

I can’t even commit to an overnight stay with only five books! I would throw myself into a volcano (because my island would need a volcano) if I had only five things to read. However, in the hours before desperation overtook me, I would enjoy:

SUITE FRANCAISE — Irene Nemirovsky (because she was so talented and saw the world through writer’s eyes, and because she died so tragically)

THE POLISH OFFICER — Alan Furst (because he is brilliant)

KINGDOM OF SHADOWS — Alan Furst  (ditto)

THE SECRET GARDEN — Frances Hodgson Burnett (because ever since I was nine years old, this book always makes me happy)

MY LIFE IN FRANCE — Julia Child (so I could dream of butter and chicken and potatoes and bread and…)

Q. What’s your favorite movie?

Tough — It’s a tossup between His Girl Friday and The Philadelphia Story — both Cary Grant, both 1940. I suppose that says something about why I write historical fiction set in the 1940’s, doesn’t it.

Q. What’s your favorite food?

I could live on fresh French bread indefinitely. I could also happily drown in Thai coconut soup.

Q. Cats or dogs?

Dogs — specifically, Boris Von Woofiepants. We got him from a rescue three years ago. He is a terrier/basset hound mix, we think. And he is the most popular person, let alone dog, I’ve ever met. People honk and yell out his name when we walk down the street. Not my name. Boris. I now know what it must feel like to be part of someone’s entourage.

Q. Name one thing that people would be surprised to learn about you.

When I lived in Northern California, I once swam from Alcatraz Island to San Francisco. My friend Gayle can talk me into just about anything!

On Germany

Posted on by Todd Posted in Musings | Comments Off on On Germany

I’m kind of a big deal in Germany.

Not a huge deal, mind you. And certainly not a David Hasselhoff-type deal. (I think I need leather pants, a few cheesy albums and a drinking problem to reach those heights.) But I’m pretty sure more readers know my name in Germany than in the United States.

“Why is that?” I hear you asking.

The reason is that image to your right — the German version of DEATH NOTICE, only there it’s known as DAS SCHWEIGEN DER TOTEN. Cool cover, right? I’m not sure how it relates to my book at all (There is no one wrapped in plastic, a la Twin Peaks.) but it looks creepy and certainly has a few Germans buzzing about it. It’s sold more copies in the past two weeks in Germany than it has in the last four months in the United States.

I’ve come up with two reasons for this. The first is that Germans are twisted, morbid people with a taste for thrillers in which characters get embalmed by a wannabe mortician. (I’m not judging. I find that to be an admirable quality.) The second is that my name is rather Teutonic and that perhaps some Germans have mistaken me for one of their countrymen. Whatever the reason, I’ll take it.

Of course, I’m not the only writer this has happened to. If you take a look at’s German website, you’ll see a lot of American authors you’ve probably never heard of doing very, very well there. I wouldn’t be surprised to learn that good sales in Germany have allowed a few authors to make the leap into writing full time. That is an awesome thing. I hope to be one of them someday.

Now, my point of this post is not to brag about my success in Germany. It’s more about how surreal the world of publishing can be, especially where foreign sales are concerned. It’s mind-blowing to know that, right this very moment, someone on the other side of the world is reading my book. Even stranger is that people in Germany are liking it quite a bit.

I think.

That’s another surreal thing about all of this. I have no idea what German readers are saying about DAS SCHWEIGEN DER TOTEN. I only see the starred reviews on the few sites I’ve been able to Google. For writers like me who thrive on positive feedback, it’s pretty frustrating not being able to read what those reviews are saying. (I tried using Google translator, but everything came out sounding like garbled lyrics to an Ace of Base song.)

The upside is that none of this has gone to my head. It’s hard to get a swollen ego when you’re not even sure what’s going on in a country you’ve never visited and whose language you don’t know. Out of sight, out of mind, as the saying goes. So I go about my day like normal — writing, driving to work, spending weekends on the couch dressed like a retiree from Boca.

At the same time, it’s good to have a back-up ego boost in times of stress. When I get cut off by an SUV on the highway, for example, or when the kid behind me on the airplane keeps kicking my seat. That’s when I close my eyes, take a deep breath and tell myself, “People in Germany really like my book.”

It works everytime.

So if anyone from Germany is reading this, I want you to know how grateful I am that you’ve taken a shine to this boy from Pennsylvania. It means a lot, and I hope to visit one day very soon. Until then, from the bottom of my heart, danke.

Writing With … Douglas Corleone

Posted on by Todd Posted in Writing With | 4 Comments

For the first official Wednesdays With entry, I welcome my friend DOUGLAS CORLEONE. Doug is the author of the Kevin Corvelli crime series, published by St. Martin’s Minotaur. His debut novel, ONE MAN’S PARADISE, won the Minotaur Books/Mystery Writers of America First Crime Novel Award. A practicing attorney, Douglas divides his time between New York and Hawaii. His second Corvelli novel, NIGHT ON FIRE, will be released on Tuesday. You can visit him online at

Q. Tell us about your latest book and what inspired you to write it.

In NIGHT ON FIRE, hotshot Honolulu defense attorney Kevin Corvelli narrowly escapes a deadly arson fire at a popular Hawaiian beach resort only to land the prime suspect — a stunning but troubled young bride — as a client. NIGHT ON FIRE is the follow-up to my debut novel, ONE MAN’S PARADISE, which was released last year. The idea for the second Kevin Corvelli novel was inspired by an event from my past. When I was a child on vacation in Canada, I woke late one night to the sound of a fire alarm. The hotel was being evacuated and I was terrified. There was a blaze a few floors below us and smoke was seeping into the stairwell as we bounded down the steps. Ultimately, no one was injured, but it was an incident I’ll never forget.

Q. Did you need to do any special research for the book? If so, what’s one of the most interesting facts you discovered?

For NIGHT ON FIRE, I had to research arson investigation. The most interesting fact I discovered was how fire investigators determine a blaze’s point of origin. They search for a V-shaped burn pattern — that’s the point of origin, where the fire burned hottest and did the most damage.

Q. Many people are content to just be readers. How did you become a writer?

I wanted to be a writer since reading the Hardy Boys mysteries as a kid. But I didn’t get serious about it until a few years ago when I was able to take a time-out from practicing law. Living in Hawaii was a great inspiration.

Q. What do you like to do when you’re not writing?

I love the ocean — it’s one of the many reasons I live in Hawaii. I enjoy swimming, snorkeling, kayaking, and just about anything else that gets me in the water.

Q. What are you reading right now?

I’m currently reading THE FIFTH WITNESS by Michael Connelly, and I’m looking forward to Steve Martini’s TRADER OF SECRETS next month.

Q. If you were stranded on that proverbial deserted island, what five books would you want to have with you?

AMERICAN PSYCHO by Bret Easton Ellis

WOMEN by Charles Bukowski

THE LONG GOODBYE by Raymond Chandler

PORNO by Irvine Welsh

IMAJICA by Clive Barker

Q. What’s your favorite movie?

Sexy Beast with Ben Kingsley.

Q. What’s your favorite food?

New York-style pizza.

Q. Cats or dogs?

Both. We have three cats, one of whom (Grey Skies) makes an appearance in the Kevin Corvelli novels. But I have a 20-month-old son named Jack, and I can’t wait to get him his first puppy, because I’ve always wanted a dog.

Q. Name one thing that people would be surprised to learn about you.

Steve-O from Jackass once poured half a bottle of Jose Cuervo down my throat at a show in New Brunswick, New Jersey.