Great Party! Sorry About the Murder

Great Party
Great Party! Sorry About the Murder. Synopsis:
Former cop (now private detective) Milo Rathkey has been scraping by since his divorce ten years ago. Most of his work involves following cheating spouses and finding missing people. He considers it unexciting. When Milo was eight his cop father was shot and killed, and his mother went to work as a cook for John McKnight on an estate called Lakesong. Milo lived at Lakesong for the next ten years.  When John died he left Milo fifteen million dollars and half of the Lakesong estate to be shared with John’s son Sutherland. Milo is dragged into the world of the wealthy, specifically to a New Year’s Eve party hosted by the beautiful Mary Alice Bonner, whose husband James is a bully and all around nasty character. After the party, in the early hours of New Year’s Day, James in shot in his home office. His friend police Lieutenant Ernie Gramm asks Milo to assist in the investigation. The suspects include the wife, the son, two low life thugs, the brother, and two business associates, one of whom is having an affair with Mary Alice. As Milo attempts to find the murderer, he is introduced to Sutherland’s world, and Sutherland to Milo’s. The victim, James Bonner is in both worlds, as Milo comes to find out. The solution has a twist but if the reader catches the clues, it is right in front of them. On audio, the novel is narrated by Tom Lennon. Interview with D.B. Elrogg below.

Alyce and Harvey Elrogg
Q) What is your background, and what influenced you to write a novel?

A) My career centered around television, first for local stations (including WCCO in the Twin Cities) and then CBS News and ABC News. I’ve written one or two guest pieces for magazines, but never as a staff member. All my writing was the quick, get to the point, let the visual tell the story of television. Alyce on the other hand, has been a talented and gifted English teacher for almost thirty years. Her writing is much more formal, so every time I write the word “very” I get an electric shock! English teachers have an aversion to the word “very.” I do get to use it in dialog because people say it all the time.

Q) Trump especially. Why not non-fiction, like many journalists?

A) We never did have much interest in writing nonfiction books. I think the process would be mind numbing and I have great respect for those that do it. Writing fiction, especially fiction with a little humor, is far more fun, and we’re retired. Fiction does sell better but we’re not writing to become fabulously wealthy. We wanted to do something together and to have fun. We did, however, blow our first royalty check at Baskin Robbins. We each got double scoops!

Q) Al Roker writes fiction too; and now Bill Clinton. Generally, fiction sells better unless the person is famous or in the news spotlight. Did any of the events in your novel actually happen?

A)  I have a relative who said there is no way the ending of Great Party could occur in real life.  I assured her—not only could it occur, but it did. Of course the story lines are changed and embellished to fit our plots! I tend to write, and Alyce tends to fix, until we come to writing scenes involving women. Then she writes and I keep my mouth shut. There is an occasional “Oh come on, how long can she be mad about this?” To which the response is “More than four pages.” Alyce is also the stickler on not using poetic license. “How did he get out on the lawn? There’s no door there!’ I have to admit ninety nine percent of the time she’s right.

Q) Of corpse. Fav authors or influence? 

A) We are fans of Agatha Christie, especially for how she crafts a mystery. Her readers get a chance to solve the crime, if they avoid the red hearings. We hope our books do the same although rising to Christie’s level would be next to impossible. I also appreciate writers who create interesting characters.  Lynn Florkiewicz, Faith Martin, and P.B. Kolleri are among my favorites, although I wish Kolleri would quit traveling and get back to England.

Q) What news stories influenced your writing? Any anecdotes to share?

A) In my time as a television reporter and producer I covered a multitude of crimes, many of which will appear in our books. The scam being run by James Bonner in Great Party actually happened in Duluth in the seventies. Likewise our second book mirrors a real life murder. Our third book will probably have a fictional account of a double murder which occurred in St. Paul in the eighties. In that case I was allowed to read the police file and realized how conflicting the various witnesses were in their accounts. Even people’s perceptions of the victims were wildly different. 

Q) What’s next for you? Sequel?

A) We have just finished the first draft of book two. We will rewrite it two more times before publishing it. Hopefully it will be out in October. We write for the fun of it, and are pleasantly surprised by the number of great reviews by people who seem to enjoy it as much as we do. 

Simon Vance Interview about The Audie Awards

Simon Vance

Simon Vance is an audiobook narrator and actor, one of the most listenable voices in the industry. He is an Audible Hall of Fame member, and a winner of 14 Audie Awards and 67 Audiofile Magazine Earphones Awards. As an Audiofile “Golden Voice” and Booklist Magazine “Voice of Choice,” he has recorded titles in all genres for many publishers, reading authors from Alan Moore to Sherlock Holmes. From Lily King’s “Euphoria” to “Bring Up the Bodies” by Hilary Mantel. Stieg Larsson to Frank Herbert. He has done horror, too. Clive Barker, Brian Lumley, and Bram Stoker’s “Dracula.“ Add “Paul is Dead” by Alan Goldsher to the list (the Beatles as zombies.) The “Master and Commander” series by Patrick O’Brien. The Biography of Rod Stewart. An astonishing list of over 750 titles includes “Cloud Atlas” by David Mitchell, one of my personal favorites (as a writer,) made into the remarkable movie starring Tom Hanks and Halle Berry. The only thing we can’t say about Simon, in fact, is that he has never narrated (nor is he related to) Hugo winning Scifi author Jack Vance, whose novel “To Live Forever” (I am proud to say) was acquired by Blackstone Audio’s Grover Gardner due to my suggestion, narrated by Kevin Kenerly. Simon has also had parts in movies and TV series, has done commercials for major corporations, and lives in Brighton, UK. —Jonathan Lowe

Jonathan Lowe) It’s an honor to host the Audie Awards. What surprised you most about that?

Simon Vance) What surprised me most was being asked in the first place. I knew they were having difficulties finding a high profile host this year but Michele seemed to have everything in hand and was quite confident, as she told me at Katy Kellgren’s memorial just the week before she called me, that she’d be able to find someone from amongst the many ‘performers’ there already were amongst the narrators, should it come to that. Little did I know it would be me. Many years ago Bob Deyan had told me that he’d put me forward as a potential host, which shocked me at the time. But when Michele did call I just felt ready.

Lowe)  But you were ready, having attended so many events over the years?

Vance) Over the past decade or so I’ve only missed one. So I knew how things worked, and was ready!

Lowe) Anecdotes to share? Favorite moments?

Vance) Favorite moments? Well, certainly the moment when the whole thing was over and I’d made it through relatively unscathed! Otherwise there are moments of satisfaction, in that I could say to myself “I handled that.” Back in 2006, I think, when Grover Gardner was the host I went up to accept my first Audie and while giving my acceptance speech. Every winner did back then. The event lasted hours. But I messed up the position of his notes and it took him some moments while he sorted them out and found his place again! I’ve always felt so guilty about that. Fast forward to this year and something similar happened to me…someone told me afterwards that they thought they’d moved my script and it was their fault that I started in on the wrong introduction. But I think I had confused the order of the pages myself…I’d call that karma. But I “handled it,” as I think I did in the moment things got awkward, when the audio/visuals didn’t behave and I filled the embarrassing silence with a little soft-shoe shuffle across the stage…which linked back nicely to my referencing the desire to do a song and dance number for the opening.

Lowe) Do you have any friends who prefer print books, which may go the way of cassettes and even CDs, as in Fahrenheit 451?

Vance) It’s not something I go around asking my friends! But I don’t see print books as being in the same category as cassettes and CDs by any stretch. Despite some people’s doom-laden prognostications, I believe there will always be print. Clearly it’s more expensive to create a hard cover book than it is to distribute data, but just look at the market for vinyl, which is also a relatively modern invention and again not really comparable to print. I think there will always be a desire to read words on paper and to collect libraries…I mean, the money isn’t there, so it’s never going to be as big as it was but this is not an art form that will vanish any time soon.

Lowe) What’s next for you?

Vance) More of the same! I’m back in the studio already booked solidly for the next 6 weeks with an exciting roster of books from new and returning authors to look forward to in the fall.

Lowe) Thanks, look forward to hearing more!

(And now, a sample of Vance reading David Copperfield, which is included in the original movie Fahrenheit 451 by Ray Bradbury as a book that must be learned and spoken aloud to be saved from the fire.)

 

A Fairy Tale Wedding

MeghanWhen Meghan Markle and Prince Harry were set up by a mutual friend on a blind date in July 2016, little did they know that the resulting whirlwind romance would lead to their engagement in November 2017 and marriage in May 2018.

Morton goes back to Meghan’s roots to uncover the story of her childhood growing up in The Valley in Los Angeles, her studies at an all-girls Catholic school, and her fraught family life-a painful experience mirrored by Harry’s own background. Morton also delves into her previous marriage and divorce in 2013, her struggles in Hollywood as her mixed heritage was used against her, her big break in the hit TV show Suits, and her work for a humanitarian ambassador-the latter so reminiscent of Princess Diana’s passions. Finally, we see how the royal romance played out across two continents but was kept fiercely secret, before the news finally broke and Meghan was thrust into the global media’s spotlight.

Drawing on exclusive interviews with her family members and closest friends, and including never-before-seen photographs, Morton introduces us to the real Meghan as he reflects on the impact that she has already had on the rigid traditions of the House of Windsor, as well as what the future might hold.

HarryFrom his earliest public appearances as a mischievous redheaded toddler, Prince Harry has captured the hearts of royal enthusiasts around the world. In Harry, Britain’s leading expert on the young royals offers an in-depth look at the wayward prince turned national treasure. Nicholl sheds new light on growing up royal, Harry’s relationship with his mother, his troubled youth and early adulthood, and how his military service in Afghanistan inspired him to create his legacy, the Invictus Games. 

Harry: Life, Loss, and Love features interviews with friends, those who have worked with the prince, and former palace aides. Nicholl explores Harry’s relationship with his family, in particular the Queen, his father, his stepmother, and his brother and reveals his secret “second family” in Botswana. She uncovers new information about his former girlfriends and chronicles his romance and engagement to American actress Meghan Markle. Harry is a compelling portrait of one of the most popular members of the royal family and reveals the inside story of the most intriguing royal romance in a decade.

Tyra Banks

Tyra Banks narrates.

The President is Missing

The President is Missing

UPDATED: The name of James Patterson is ubiquitous. Go to any hotel or cruise ship pool in summer, and you’ll see someone reading a Patterson thriller, written by himself and co-authors. A former ad man, he is now the reigning king of pop fiction superstars, and lives in Palm Beach, Florida, where Mar-a-Lago is. (Bill Clinton and Trump were photographed golfing together years ago.) Patterson’s latest book, written with Bill Clinton, is THE PRESIDENT IS MISSING. Narrators are actors Dennis Quaid, January LaVoy, Mozhan Marno, and Jeremy Davidson. The book was published June 4. This interview was several years ago. 

JONATHAN LOWE: What led you to writing? Were you a voracious reader?

JAMES PATTERSON: I was a good student in high school, but I didn’t like to read at all. I’m still not a big fan of Silas Marner. Just after I graduated from high school, I got a job working at a famous mental hospital. I had a lot of free time, and I started reading everything I could get my hands on. At this point, I was reading serious fiction, poetry, essays, plays. I still didn’t read any commercial fiction. When I was in my twenties I read two commercial novels that turned it all around for me–Day of the Jackal and The Exorcist. At that point, I decided that I wanted to write a novel that readers would find almost impossible to put down.

Q: What was your reaction to the success of “Along Came a Spider?”

A: Long before I had a success with “Along Came A Spider,” I had learned to stop and smell the roses. Consequently, I savored every moment when Along Came A Spider hit the bestseller lists. That included every bookstore I visited on tour, every interview, every kind review.

Q: Was the Alex Cross character your first choice as protagonist? How and why did you develop him to be who he is?

A: Actually, when I began “Along Came A Spider,” Alex Cross was a woman. I wrote about fifty pages, and decided to go in another direction. I’ve told the story about where the Cross family came from, but I’m happy to tell it again. When I was a kid growing up in Newburgh, New York, my grandparents owned a small restaurant. The cook was a black woman named Laura. When I was three or four, she was having trouble with her husband and my parents urged her to move in with us. Over the next four years, I spent incredible amounts of time with Laura and her family. I got an incredible feeling for the warmth and good humor that they shared. That certainly influenced my creating the Cross family.

Q: Did you begin by thinking of Alex as a series character? Coming up with nursery rhymes as titles is obviously good for name recognition, but how much did they influence the actual plotting?

A: When I wrote “Along Came A Spider” I wasn’t thinking about creating a series. The publisher wanted to make a two-book deal, and the more I thought about writing about Alex again, the more I liked it. I don’t think the nursery rhymes have much to do with the plotting at all.

Q: Nor do I. One thing which strikes me about your books is your creative use of short chapters for dramatic effect. Knowing when and where to end a chapter which leaves the reader guessing or biting their nails or just staring at the page in shock. Two of your chapters in ROSES ARE RED, for example, are mere one liners, which explains a total of 125 chapters in a relatively short book. When your wife asks how much you’ve written today and you say “two chapters” doesn’t she just stare at you?

A: The short chapters were kind of an accident. I had written about thirty chapters of The Midnight Club and I expected to flesh them out later. When I read them, however, I liked the pacing a lot. I eventually fleshed the chapters out, but not as much as I planned to. My wife and I never talk about the quantity of work I’ve done on any given day, just the quality.

Q: Please describe your new book.

A: You get on a roller coaster, it goes on and on, you can’t believe how many twists and turns you’ve experienced, and when the ride finally stops you get off exhausted, shaken, but strangely satisfied.

Q: Do you listen to audiobooks on the road? 

A: Ever since I moved out of New York City, I’ve been addicted to audiobooks. I listen to one or two a week while I’m driving around town. Generally, I listen to the books that I used to buy, but never get around to reading.

 

The President is Missing book

 

The Kentucky Derby #Goodreads

Horses

Audiobooks

Won by JUSTIFY, trained by Bob Baffert, who also trained AMERICAN PHAROAH. The horse AUDIBLE placed third. From ESPN producer and Audible narrator Barry Abrams, whose last narration was Awakening Storm: “Audible should have won. He was the best of Todd Pletcher’s four horses. He showed an ability to succeed either by racing just behind the leaders or coming from much further back, so he had versatility.” Barry has a podcast on iTunes called IN THE GATE, about horseracing. “Justify your love” by joining Audible and downloading American Pharoah, and get it and another free in the process.  

 

Animal rights

In America dogs eat better than kids. Dog food is often 100% grass fed, “grain free.” McDonalds is grain fed. Relevant books: Fast Food Nation, Sugar Fat Salt, Brandwashed, The Filter Bubble, Future CrimesCoffee? Time to wake up.

Peter Berkrot Interview

Peter Berkrot

Jonathan Lowe) How did you come to voice acting? 

Peter Berkrot) I started acting and training in New York in 1973 when I was in 13 or 14, so how I came to voice acting is like how I came to Massachusetts or marriage. The longer the trail, the more paths there are. My focus then was theatre, of course. I was a theatre major at SUNY New Paltz but when I was cast in Caddyshack halfway through college, I began to see my career through a more expansive lens. The majority of voice work came when I left New York in 1989 and moved to New England. Very soon, I was doing VO work for documentaries, occasionally playing the American translation voice for the on camera speakers. That eventually translated into a great relationship at WGBH in Boston where I’ve been doing that type of work for FRONTLINE since 2004.

JL) Wow. A fav movie, and a fav PBS series! Bannon’s War? As a footnote, I once communicated with Frontline’s main narrator Will Lyman, who also did the voiceover for Jonathan Goldsmith, the World’s Most Interesting Man, who has a biography out titled Stay Interesting, which Goldsmith reads on audio. Interesting story, too. Jonathan says he was living out of his truck, and was killed on screen as an extra more than anyone, until that Dos Equis commercial. Lyman can’t talk about it, still under contract. Other formats? Commercials, games, documentaries?

PB) There was a ton of industrial work in the 90’s and 00’s so I did all sorts of on camera and VO work, often playing characters with a variety of dialects. Then I did a bunch of local games, creating a character called “I.M. Meen” at the end of the MS-DOS revolution. Google it. People have taken my song and twisted it around so I’m saying all sorts of nasty things. I started looking into audiobooks in 2006 and did my first in 2007.

JL) You recorded The Art of War, which is Trump’s favorite book, and a big seller. Any thoughts to share on the Machiavellian Sun Tzu philosophy, and if you think it relates in any way to Leadership and Self Deception, or maybe the stress levels described in Why Zebras Don’t Get Ulcers, both of which you’ve also narrated?

PB) I was lucky enough to come of age between wars so I never experienced the horrors of war either first or second hand. I actually always feel a bit like a fraud when I’m playing all the real life and fictitious Navy Seals and marines I do in books. For The ART OF WAR I found that I was most authentic after channelling my inner Klingon, giving context I could understand to experiences I could not. As for this being trump’s favorite book, an oxymoron if I ever heard (or met) one, I would be astonished if he ever read a book cover to cover that didn’t include instructions on connecting the dots. It is a favorite of some of the greatest warriors, generals and military strategists in history and that’s part of his delusion so no doubt he said that. I bet his other favorite is the Bible.

JL) Yes, but he couldn’t name a favorite verse.

PB) If he were somehow “clockwork oranged” and forced to read the whole book, there is no indication that he understood a single concept based on how he conducts himself. I’m sure his lawyer’s lawyer’s spokesman would agree. As for LEADERSHIP AND SELF DECEPTION, unlike many self-help books in the Business category which are about leveling the playing field and getting the edge on the competition, this is a much more spiritual approach to leadership, asking the listener to look within him or herself to deeply evaluate ones relationship to oneself, to others, to work and so forth. It is about growing and getting out of your own way and not blaming or undermining anyone else along the way. It’s tremendous popularity is probably attributed to the creative prose which is a series of scripted scenes and opportunities for self evaluation. There actually are some connections between THE ART OF WAR and WHY ZEBRAS DON’T GET ULCERS, although it may seem to be reaching. The ability to reduce stress will add years to your life. Planning for every contingency in battle and holding the better defensive position requires a calm and logical mind as well as strength and resolve. In Dr. Sapolsky’s book, he brilliantly illustrates through the explanation of his title why we can also live longer, though the war is internal. Stress is supposed to be a survival mechanism. If you’re a zebra running from a lion, you absolutely require the adrenaline and hormonal barrage that stress brings to make sure you’re not the slowest zebra in the herd. The moment the threat is gone, the stress levels drop to neutral and the zebra renews his strolling and grazing. A human being would lie there on the steppes and worry about the next lion until one came and he’s ‘run and worry and run and worry’ until eventually, he’d die of a heart attack or diabetes.

JL) We’d eat pizza too while worrying. Comfort food. What did you read as a teen that may have influenced you?

PB) I loved series books as most kids do. And Dr. Seuss. But I was 6 or 7 when the original STAR TREK hit the air and 12 or 13 when I saw my first Twilight Zone. Those were my major influences which drew me from the small screen to the small page. I started writing a lot of Horror and Science Fiction stories, big on time travel. Then the real reading kicked in. Robert Heinlein’s STRANGER IN A STRANGE LAND was huge for me and everything by Kurt Vonnegut. Then Catch-22 and Stephen King.

JL) You narrated a couple of Richard Matheson titles, who was a short story master, like Ray Bradbury. You’ve also done Philip K. Dick and Dean Koontz. That’s a lot of genres under the umbrella “speculative fiction.” Any preferred genre?  

PB) Yes! Time Travel! Anything related to time travel! Watching STAR TREK and TWILIGHT ZONE naturally led me to Harlan Ellison, Richard Matheson, Ray Bradbury, Isaac Asimov. Of all the comic books I read as a kid I liked Legion of Super Heroes best because they were in the future. When I get to narrate anything by Philip K. Dick or the others in this genre, I feel it as an honor and a challenge, a thread connecting me to my past and my future.

JL) Another footnote, did you know Harlan Ellison is an audiobook narrator too, and he knows the scoop on both Star Trek and Scientology first hand? His tell-all is the audiobook The City on the Edge of Forever, the story behind the script he wrote. He actually saved Star Trek from cancellation, early on, by petitioning for it. Bradbury helped launch Playboy magazine, too. Fahrenheit 451 was first published in the first issues. What is next for you?

PB) In terms of books, “Caddyshack, The Making of a Hollywood Cinderella Story” by Chris Nashawaty is just released, certainly the most personal and bizarre narrating experience I had, especially quoting myself. Next I go into the booth to record BLOWN by Mark Haskell Smith, the sixth novel of his I have had the extraordinary pleasure of narrating. Funniest. Guy. Ever. Then, the opposite. The brilliantly crafted but emotionally shattering memoir THE END OF THE WORLD AS WE KNOW IT by Robert Goolrick for HighBridge Audio. And then I’ll be spending 46 hours with Dwight D. Eisenhower courtesy of Audible Studios. More books. More teaching! I haven’t talked about my teaching or private coaching but its one of my strengths and passions. More Skyping, and maybe one day I’ll save up enough money to do a play again. While I can still memorize. And walk.

JL) I once saw a woman walk into a tree while reading a print book. As I passed her with my iPod, I said one word: “Audiobooks.” Thanks for taking time for an interview.

Happy World Book Day

Ariana Grande

Reading list?