Tuesday, June 9, 2015

Guest Post: "Slivers of Glass" by Janet Lynn and Will Zeilinger

I am fascinated with well-done noir mysteries and admire people who can write them. To that end, today I am featuring Janet Elizabeth Lynn and Will Zeilinger who partnered up on Slivers of Glass. When you read the interview, I'll bet you'd like to sit down with them. I know I would. As a special treat, at the end of this post, they provided a classic recipe of the era.

Southern California 1955:  the summer Disneyland opened, but even the happiest place on earth couldn't hide the smell of dirty cops, corruption and murder.

The body of a women thought to be killed three years earlier is found behind a theater in Hollywood. Movie Stuntman Skylark Drake, former LAPD detective, is dragged into the investigation. He can make no sense of the crime until he discovers a dirty underworld and unearths deep-seated...greed.

Genre: noir murder mystery

How much of your characters/plot are drawn from your life?
J-I think a lot of my plots and characters are drawn from people I know and things that happened to them and my family.  Then I asked myself, what is the worst thing that could happen to my family and friends that would impact me greatly
W- In my mysteries, very little is autobiographical. Mostly from people watching and eavesdropping
What is best to write from, real settings or fictional settings?
J-Fictional by all means, with a real situation playing a major role in the story. Nothing beats real life situations, and they say, sometimes life imitates fiction.
W- For me an actual setting that has been altered to fit the story. Creating a whole new world can take a lot of time and involve a lot of tracking and organization.

What was the most awkward situation you experienced when discussing your book?
J- My sister, 8 year old niece and I were enjoying a day at the beach. We ran into some friends I hadn't seen for years. We talked for a while and I told them about my new book, Slivers of Glass and how I write murder mysteries. The next day, my niece went to school, and during sharing time about families she stated, "My Auntie and Uncle are famous, they kill people." My sister got a call from the teacher that day. 
W- We were at a wedding in Santa Rosa when the subject of our murder mystery book research came to light. We asked about places in the area that could be the site of a body dump. You wouldn't believe the number of suggestions we got!  One woman said to her friend, "Those two seem so normal."

What city would you visit over and over again? 
J-New Orleans, it is such an amazing place! There is great history, scrumptious food,  beauty scenery everywhere you look, and friendly people. I was inspired during a walk through Jackson Square to write an entire murder mystery set in New Orleans. I already included New Orleans in my third book, EAST OF THE PIER.

W- I agree with Janet - New Orleans is number one. because of the rich history and of course the food!

Why do you write fictional murder mysteries?
J- Who says they're fictional!?! Many of my subplots and characters come from real life over the years. Mind you not necessarily my life!
W- Most true crime stories have been covered and I like to be creative with my characters and give them their own stories.

Where and how do you write?
J-I write anywhere I can: backs of forms, napkins, scratch paper, etc. And depending on where I am: doctors or dentist office,  standing line in the grocery store, stuck in traffic, name it. When inspiration hits, I write. Then I transfer my chicken scratches to my computer and elaborate on it.
W- Usually I am at my computer. I prefer to type in my story rather than write it with pen or pencil. I guess I like to commit to it in that way.  I do crossword puzzles in ink as well.

Where do you get most of your creative thoughts for your book?
J- I get most inspired in the shower, at the beach, swimming underwater. Since I swim 3-4 times a week at a public pool, I always come home with something. Especially when I'm stuck on a scene. Water tends to make my brain think best.
W- I never know when inspiration will strike. Many times when I'm sitting in a boring meeting, the urge to kill surfaces. Sometimes in a checkout line or waiting at the post office my mind will wander off to the dark side.

Excerpt from Slivers of Glass

There were a dozen other things I could’ve been doing besides standing in line at the drug store listening to Bill Haley’s “Rock Around the Clock” piped in overhead.  Though, it was a treat to watch the cashier move behind the counter in her form-fitting white smock. I shook my head and plopped a tube of Pepsodent and a couple of toothbrushes on the pharmacy counter.

She looked up and said, “That will be seventy-five cents, Mr. Drake.”

I dug in my pocket and dropped three quarters in her hand, “Thank you, Miss Abernathy.” She placed my items in a small white paper bag and folded over the top. “Here you are, and quit calling me that.  My name is Emily. Anyway, this should keep you smiling brightly. I only wish I could see yours sometime.”

In all the times I’ve walked to this drug store, I couldn’t remember a day she didn’t smile at me. Too bad there was a ‘y’ at the end of Emily’s name. Women with names like Sandy, Cathy or Abby were bad luck. Those ‘y’  women were always trouble and it would be dangerous to get mixed up with another one now.

“Thanks,” I tipped my hat, "When I have something to smile about, I might just show you.” I knew Emily pretty well since this place was only a couple of blocks from my apartment, an apartment I lived in because a fire took my home along with my beautiful wife Claire and Ellen my little girl.

As I turned to leave, I winked at the two little old ladies behind me.  They stepped back and stared as if I’d just sneezed in their faces. I turned and waved goodbye to Emily only to see her pointing behind me in horror. I followed her gaze and saw a dark green car hurtling toward us - right through the huge windows at the front of the store! The gigantic crash at my back sent shelves, boxes and cans hurtling in our direction. I turned around as glass, smoke and debris seemed to explode in a cloud around us. At that moment my training from the Marine Corps took over. I instinctively swept up the two ladies and Emily and pushed them to the back of the store. The other customers ran screaming out the huge opening where the storefront windows used to be. I shielded the women against the back wall with my body all the while knowing that my weight could suffocate them, but what else could I do? The ceiling could come down on us at any moment. I held them against the wall while listening to my heart pound.  Slowly the tinkle of glass subsided and I released them. Tiny slivers of glass and wood had embedded themselves in my sweater and trousers. “You’d better be careful,” One of the little old women chirped, “Your backside looks like a pin cushion.  Best not to sit down for a while.”

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A very popular dessert in the 1950’s, served at the famous Coconut Grove Night Club in Los Angeles. The “Grove” was known for its great cuisine. The Coconut Grove is featured in one of the scenes in Slivers of Glass, a Noir murder Mystery.

2 oranges or tangerines 

2 bananas

Shredded coconut, unsweetened
Peel the oranges or tangerines, pull the pieces apart; cut the pieces across the middle. Peel the bananas and cut them into thin slices.

Cover the bottom of the bowl with orange pieces. Sprinkle 1-2 teaspoons of sugar over the oranges (depending on the sweetness of the oranges/tangerines). Put some banana slices on oranges, and then sprinkle a little coconut over bananas.

Do the same thing for the next layer, first the oranges, sugar, bananas and coconut. Make more layers, using all the fruit.

Sprinkle coconut on top. Cover with plastic wrap, refrigerate for 1 hour. Serves 3-4

1 comment:

  1. Great interiew and I love the excerpt. BTW, you're correct about those "y named" women. We are a handful!