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2019 Author Interviews

Q & A with Author Jeffery Deaver, Master of Psychological Suspense

Jeffery DeaverInternational bestselling and global multi-award winning suspense-thriller author
Jeffery Deaver is widely hailed as the “master of psychological suspense.” A rock star of the literary galaxy, he’s author of more than 40 novels with 50 million books sold worldwide. His “Lincoln Rhyme” series novel “The Bone Collector,” named one of the best thrillers of all time, was made into a blockbuster film starring Denzel Washington and Angelina Jolie and NBC currently has a TV pilot-in-progress based on the series.

Those attending the upcoming Mystery Fest Key West, happening June 28-30, will have the opportunity to meet Deaver, the event’s Keynote Speaker. In the meantime, the author has agreed to answer a few questions:

Q: You have been writing two highly successful ongoing series for some time now - fifteen suspense thrillers featuring Lincoln Rhyme and Amelia Sachs, and six novels starring Kathryn Dance. This year you released “The Never Game,” the first in a new series featuring the itinerant “reward seeker” Colter Shaw and a huge hit with readers and reviewers. From where did Shaw emerge? Can you tell us a little bit about the creation of his personality and what it was like for you to conceive and develop a new leading character?

JD: I wrote a series many years ago about a location scout for a film company who traveled the country looking for places to set films. He always got involved in a local crime. I loved the idea of a region mystery series, but the movie angle was a bit contrived. How did he happen to be in a town when a murder occurred? I decided to update the concept and create a hero who pursues rewards—which means by definition there’s an existing crime or mystery.

Q: Do you foresee a film based on Colter Shaw? If yes, what actor would you envision portraying the character?

JD: Oh, I never think much about the films or TV shows. I’m never happier than when I’m in a dark room writing books and stories, and if something gets picked up, that’s great. I don’t think about casting, though I picture him looking something like Steve McQueen from the 1960s.

Q: How has the book publishing industry most notably changed since your writing career launched and how have those changes impacted you and your work?

JD: Well, there’s a lot more competition for ways to fill our free time: streaming TV, video games, for instance. But I still believe that a book or story is the most emotionally engaging creative form on earth. That’s why I write books and will continue to. As for impacting my approach, I have recently begun writing in a style that mimics streaming TV—shorter books, shorter paragraphs, more dialogue, more accessible language. My job is to get my stories to as many readers as possible, and I think this is one way to do it. I’m takin’ on Netflix!

Q: How have technological advances over the past couple of decades impacted your approach to your work?

JD: Not much really, other than making sure I have state of the art computers to work on. Surgeons and pilots must have the latest systems and technologies; writers should too.

Q: Your background also includes singing/songwriting, an original audio play, a soap-opera acting gig, journalism, and the practice of law. What’s next on your do-list?

JD: Oh, just writing more books and stories. Those other avocations were simply to pay the rent so I could write.

Q: You wrote an entire album of country western tunes to accompany your 2012 Kathryn Dance series novel “XO.” Did you know you were going to do that from the get-go? Can you tell us about the sparking and development of that idea?

JD: I want to reach as many readers as I can, and I think one way to do that is to expand the book off the page (my original recipes in The Kill Room; my original photography in The October List). I thought a music album might pick up folks who didn’t normally read mystery fiction. By the way, there are clues in the songs that can help you figure out whodunit in XO.

Q: You have been writing such diverse characters over many years: Your Kathryn Dance character is a body language expert. Lincoln Rhyme is utterly cerebral. Do you have a regular method or ritual for getting into the wholeness of each character before you resume writing them?

JD: No method—and certainly no ritual. I’m a craftsman like a plumber or painter. I envision what I think will be an appealing character, close my eyes and imagine who that person is. I will say I’m lucky to have been born with a vivid imagination.

Q: Which film adapted from one of your novels has most pleased you, and why?

JD. To be honest, I really have no real preference. Once a book is done, I move on and don’t think about any film or TV projects based on it. I have to say, though, it was exciting to have Denzel and Angelia reciting lines that I had written!

Q: You are known for spinning multiple sub-plots in your stories. The New York Times wrote, “Deaver’s infernal puzzle mysteries invariably inspire words like devious, diabolical, and devilish.” Are you developing the subplots from each project’s start, or do you create your main characters narrative first and then build around it?

JD: I spend eight months plotting out my stories before I write a single word of the prose. All the plots, subplots, twists and turns, characters, etc., are forged in that outlining and research process. It’s both an exhilarating and exasperating thing but it’s the only way to get the plotting just right. You should never write a word of your story until you know where it’s going to go.

Q: Your books have been translated into more than 25 languages. Do you have any tales to tell of mangled, mystifying, or amusing translation results?

JD: Somebody once asked me, quite seriously, what did I think of the Norwegian translation of one of my novels? My answer: I don’t know. If I could speak Norwegian, I wouldn’t have needed a translator!

Mystery Fest Key West 2019 is sponsored by the Monroe County Tourist Development Council, the Key West Citizen Daily Newspaper, The Helmerich Trust, The Gardens Hotel, The Laureate Key West, Margaritaville Key West Resort & Marina, and Key West Art & Historical Society.

Event registration is $195 and includes all panels, presentations, a lunch and a brunch, and social events. For a full Fest schedule, online registration, and hotel links visit MysteryFestKeyWest.com.

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For Immediate Release
June 3, 2019

Q&A with Award-Winning Mystery Author Micki Browning

Micki BrowingMicki Browning, author of the award-winning Mer Cavallo Mysteries, is set to be a guest presenter at the upcoming Mystery Fest Key West, happening June 28-30 at The Studios of Key West and other landmark Key West locations. Browning’s debut novel, “Adrift,” was an Agatha Award Finalist for Best First Novel. “Beached,” the second in the series, won the 2018 Royal Palm Literary Award for Best Mystery and Published Book of the Year. Those attending the Fest will have the opportunity to meet and talk mysteries with her. In the meantime, the author has agreed to answer a few questions:

Q: You have a background in law enforcement that includes the FBI National Academy. How has that influenced your choice of genre and subject matter for your books and short stories?

MB:  I’ve had people express surprise that the protagonist in my first series is a marine biologist, diver, and amateur sleuth, but after twenty-two years as an officer, I wanted to focus on something else. My husband and I moved to the Keys and I became a professional divemaster. While I initially wasn’t ready to write a police procedural, I couldn’t escape writing about crime. My background certainly informs my writing, but the lessons that stuck with me were less about tactics and more about people. Life is messy. Complicated. That’s what I try to capture in my writing. Now I’m ready to return to my roots and my next novel is a police procedural set in Colorado.

Q: The Thirteenth Galleon, a mysterious Spanish ship that wrecked centuries ago, is a legend you invented for the plot of  “Beached.” How did you connect it to actual history? How do its details veer from history?

MB: I earned my degree in Medieval Studies and I’ve discovered that I enjoy blurring the line between history and fiction. It’s fact that King Philip V’s ill-fated Spanish treasure fleet left Havana on Friday, July 13, 1733, and within days was overtaken by a hurricane. The shipwrecks dot the Atlantic edge of the Florida Keys and their locations are historically well documented. Using a medieval expulsion order from 1492 for motivation, I laid a breadcrumb trail of gold “portrait dollars.” The coins are real, but rare—so rare, it made me wonder where the rest of the cache was and how I could go about finding it. So began the what-if game. I added 300 years, switched monarchs, mixed in a touch of colonialism, et voilà  the Legend of the Thirteenth Galleon was born.

Q: What makes you cringe when you are watching a crime program on television?

MB: Law enforcement officers who rack a round into their duty weapon right before they need to use it. Officers carry weapons that are ready to be fired the moment they clear the holster.

Q:  How much of Micki Browning resides in your protagonist Mer Cavallo?

MB: I believe authors inhabit every character they create, but Mer Cavallo isn’t my alter ego. We do, however, share a love of scuba diving, an appreciation of the ocean, and the occasional overuse of sarcasm.

Q: You write scenes that take place underwater. What challenges does that present?

MB: Not everyone knows what it feels like to be in an underwater environment. Sound travels about four times faster through water than in air, which makes it difficult to discern its origin. Pressure increases on the body as a diver descends, and color is lost as light waves are absorbed. The rules of gravity don’t apply to the same extent underwater, and divers can move in all directions. To a non-diver, the gear is confusing. Plus, dialogue is a challenge. Fortunately, a lot of excitement can take place underwater and I’ve had readers tell me that they found themselves holding their breath as they turned the pages.

Q: Your Mer Cavallo Mysteries are set in the Keys. So…key lime pie: meringue or whipped cream?

MB: Meringue. Always.

Mystery Fest Key West 2019 is sponsored by the Monroe County Tourist Development Council, the Key West Citizen daily newspaper, The Helmerich Trust, The Gardens Hotel, The Laureate Key West, Margaritaville Key West Resort and Marina, and Key West Art & Historical Society.

Event registration is $195 and includes all panels, presentations, a lunch and a brunch, and social events. For a full Fest schedule, online registration, and hotel links visit MysteryFestKeyWest.com

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2018 Author Interviews

Ace Atkins

Ace Atkins is the New York Times Bestselling author of twenty-one novels, including The Fallen and Robert B. Parker’s Little White Lies, both out from G.P. Putnam's Sons in 2017. One of the best crime writers working today, Ace has been nominated for every major award in crime fiction, including the Edgar three times, twice for novels about former U.S. Army Ranger Quinn Colson. A former newspaper reporter and SEC football player, Ace also writes essays and investigative pieces for several national magazines including Outside and Garden & Gun. He lives in Oxford, Mississippi with his family, where he’s friend to many dogs and several bartenders. Click Here to read more.

Heather Graham

New York Times and USA Today best selling author, Heather Graham, majored in theater arts at the University of South Florida. Her first book was with Dell, and since then, she has written more than one hundred novels and novellas including category, suspense, historical romance, vampire fiction, time travel, occult and Christmas family fare. She has been published in approximately twenty languages, and has 75 million books in print. She has been honored with awards from Walden Books, B. Dalton, Georgia Romance Writers, Affaire de Coeur, Romantic Times and more. Heather has also become the recipient of the Silver Bullet from Thriller Writers. She has had books selected for the Doubleday Book Club and the Literary Guild, and has been quoted, interviewed or featured in such publications as The Nation, Redbook, Mystery Book Club, People and USA Today and appeared on many newscasts including Today, Entertainment Tonight and local television.Click Here to read more.

Otto Penzler

Otto Penzler is the proprietor of The Mysterious Bookshop in New York City,
and founded The Mysterious Press in 1975, which now publishes original books
as an imprint at Grove/Atlantic in the United States and Head of Zeus in the
U.K., as well as classic crime fiction through "MysteriousPress.com." Among
the sixty anthologies he’s edited are The Big Book of Jack the Ripper, The
Big Book of Sherlock Holmes Stories, The Best American Noir of the Century,
The Best American Mystery Stories of the 19th Century and The Best American
Mystery Stories of the Century. He served as the host for Turner Classic
Movies for its “Month of Mysteries” in 2002. Penzler has won two Edgar
Awards, for Encyclopedia of Mystery and Detection in 1977 and The Lineup in
2010. The Mystery Writers of America awarded him the prestigious Ellery
Queen Award in 1994 and the Raven in 2003. He has been given Lifetime
Achievement awards by Noircon and The Strand Magazine. Click Here to read more.


2017 Author Interviews



Author John Hemingway, a 2017 Mystery Fest Key West headliner, sits with his grandfather Ernest’s typewriter and other memorabilia in the late author’s Key West writing studio. 2017 Fest highlights include a reception and dinner at the Hemingway Home and Museum.
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Interview with John Hemingway

Event organizers have announced that John Hemingway, grandson of the late Nobel Prize winning American author Ernest Hemingway, is set to be a special guest speaker during the Mystery Fest Key West, an annual gathering of award-winning and bestselling mystery fiction and true crime authors and the readers who love them, set for June 16-18, 2017.

The American-born, Canada-based writer and translator’s articles and short stories have appeared in American, Italian and Spanish newspapers and reviews. He was a contributor to the Murder In Key West 3”short-story anthology (“Nacho y Lucrezia”) and his critically acclaimed memoir, “Strange Tribe” (Lyons Press, May 2007), examines the complex relationship and striking similarities between his father, Dr. Gregory Hemingway and his grandfather, Ernest.

A riveting storyteller, John has run 16 times with the bulls at the festival of San Fermín in Pamplona, Spain, a Spanish tradition that dates back to as early as the 14th century. A father of two, John currently resides in Canada with his wife Kristina.



Click here for Q&A with John Hemingway >>>






Author Clifford Irving

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Interview with Clifford Irving

Acclaimed American novelist and New York Times best-selling author Clifford Irving is set to appear as Keynote Speaker for the June 16-18 Mystery Fest Key West, an annual gathering of award-winning and high-profile mystery writers, true crime experts and fans, held at the DoubleTree Resort by Hilton Grand Key.

His works have run a gamut from restless youth searching for hope and meaning - “On a Darkling Plain” (1956) and “The Losers” (1958), to history - “The Battle of Jerusalem: The Six-Day War of June, 1967” (1970), memoir – “The Hoax” (1972), in which he tells how he perpetrated the Howard Hughes Autobiography Hoax – to numerous true-crime and legal thrillers.

Today, more than 20 novels bear his name, with several adapted for television. Those attending the Fest will have the opportunity to meet and gain insights from him. In the meantime, the author agreed to answer a few questions about his work and methods:



Click here for Q&A with Clifford Irving >>>




Author Randy Rawls

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Interview with Randy Rawls

Author Randy Rawls is a man of mystery. He’s past-president of the Mystery Writers of America – Florida Chapter, author of the Ace Edwards, Dallas private-eye series, the Tom Jeffries South Florida PI series, and the Beth Bowman South Florida PI series, as well as short stories in various anthologies. His latest, “Justice Secured,” is a standalone featuring Josh Hawkins, ex-Army Special Forces officer and a PI in South Florida. 

Rawls is set to appear as a headlining guest at the upcoming Mystery Fest Key West, a gathering of award-winning and high profile mystery and true-crime authors, experts and fans happening June 16-18 in the Southernmost city.

The South Florida based author agreed to share some insights about his work and methods in advance of the Fest:



Click here for Q&A with Randy Rawls>>>



2016 Author Interviews

Interview with Robert K. Tanenbaum

New York Times bestselling author Robert K. Tanenbaum is set to headline the upcoming Mystery Writers Key West Fest, June 10-12, 2016. Three true-crime books and twenty-seven novels bear his byline - including the celebrated Butch Karp and Marlene Ciampi crime/legal thriller series. His twenty-eighth novel, “Infamy,” is due out in September and number twenty-nine is currently in the works. A true-life legal eagle, having never lost a felony trial, Tanenbaum is recognized as one of the nations most respected trial lawyers.

Continue Reading Here. . .

Interview with Lisa Black

New York Times bestselling novelist Lisa Black is author of a series of acclaimed forensic thrillers: Close to the Bone, The Price of Innocence, Blunt Impact, Defensive Wounds, Trail of Blood, Evidence of Murder, Takeover and the newly released, That Darkness. She is also a professional forensic scientist.

Continue Reading Here. . .

Interview with Author Timothy Hallinan

With more than two-dozen titles to his credit, Southeast Asia and California-based thriller author Timothy Hallinan is the acclaimed author of three mystery/thriller series and several writing compendium projects, as well as a biography of Charles Dickens. His thrillers have earned prestigious Edgar, Shamus, Macavity, and Nero award nominations and several have been optioned for television and film.

Hallinan's first series, written in the early to mid-1990’s starred the “uselessly over-educated” LA private eye Simeon Grist. In 2007 he launched the Poke Rafferty series - thrillers with heart, soul and a keen social conscience - set in Bangkok. His third series, which hit the stands in 2010, takes a comic twist with the adventures of Junior Bender, a "thief's thief with a moral compass" who works as a PA for the criminal element.

Continue Reading Here. . .

2015 Author Interviews

Interview with Author James O. Born

Tagged in 2009 as one of Florida's 21 most intriguing people by Florida Monthly Magazine, award-winning crime and science fiction writer James O. Born’s works include three series, a stand-alone novel and a suspense thriller co-authored with Lou Dobbs. He is a formeer US Drug Agent (DEA), a player in the late 1990’s Miami drug war and later a Special Agent with the elite Florida Department of Law Enforcement, working undercover and spending eleven years on the agency’s SWAT team. Continue Reading Here. . .

Interview with Author Jeffery Deaver

Jeffery Deaver is a master of psychological suspense and exquisite plot twists; an A-list international bestselling and global multi-award winning author with more than thirty novels to his name and nearly every literary award and nomination that you can think of.   Several of his books have been adapted to films. His mid 1990’s The Bone Collector, featuring quadriplegic protagonist Lincoln Rhyme, is considered one of the best thrillers of all time and became a box office hit featuring Angelina Jolie and Denzel Washington.
Continue Reading Here. . .

Interview with Author Libby Fischer Hellmann

Chicago based bestselling and award-winning crime-fiction author Libby Fischer Hellmann joins the Mystery Writers Key West Fest August 14-16 as a guest panelist and moderator. Noted for crafting “compulsively readable thrillers,” her novels include the four-volume Ellie Foreman series, which she describes as a cross between “Desperate Housewives” and “24;” a grittier four-volume series starring Georgia Davis PI; and several stand-alone novels, Set the Night on Fire, A Bitter Veil and Havana Lost.
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Interview with Author Carolina Garcia-Aguilera

Carolina Garcia-Aguilera is the multi-award winning author of 10 books and a prolific contributor to numerous anthologies. Her novels have been translated into twelve languages, and her seventh, ONE HOT SUMMER, was made into a movie for Lifetime Television. She is author of the widely acclaimed Lupe Solano mystery series, which chronicle the adventures of the “sexy, scrappy” Miami-based, Cuban-American private investigator Solano. Garcia-Aguilera, whose characters run the gamut from geisha’s to nuns, was herself born in Cuba and explored the world of Miami vice as a private investigator for more than 25 years.
Continue Reading Here. . .

Interview with Author Chris Kuzneski

Chris Kuzneski, set to be a guest panelist at the Mystery Writers Key West Fest in August, is the New York Times bestselling author of two thriller series — the “Payne & Jones” series which chronicles the adventures of a wise-cracking, high-octane pair of former U.S. Special Forces squad mates, and “The Hunters” series, which follows an elite team of renegades as they seek to recover legendary lost treasures. With millions of copies sold, Kuzneski’s works have been translated into more than 20 languages and have been published in more than 40 countries.
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Interview with Author John Cunningham

The very first line of author John H. Cunningham's original Buck Reilly adventure, "Red Right Return," reads as follows: “Fort Jefferson was visible in the distance, seventy miles from Key West, another outcast in the Florida Straits.” Sucked right in - right? Wayfaring through Keys and Caribbean locals, beaches, bars and rum-splashed sunsets, the intrepid author’s Buck Reilly adventures to date include, "Red Right Return," "Green to Go," "Crystal Blue" and “Second Chance Gold." Their leading man is a treasure hunting, adventure seeking, flying boat pilot with an uncanny knack for dalliances, danger and daring escapes. Continue Reading Here...


2014 Author Interviews


Interview with Author Sandra Balzo

Award-winning author Sandra Balzo will appear in Key West, Florida, as a Mystery Writers Key West Fest panelist, along with nearly two dozen cohorts in crime-fiction this coming June 13-15. One Fest guest will claim a walk-on cameo appearance in Balzo’s next Maggy Thorsen coffeehouse novel, ninth in the mystery series that has just been optioned for possible development as a television series.
Continue Reading Here. . .

Interview with Author Don Bruns

Ohio and Sarasota based mystery suspense writer Don Bruns will appear with nearly two-dozen crime-fiction and true crime authors at the inaugural Mystery Writers Key West Fest this June 13-15. Bruns is an award-winning author of twelve books in two different series, the “Stuff” series and the “Caribbean” series. He agreed to spill a few beans about his life and work.
Continue Reading Here. . .

Interview with Robert Coburn

A native of Norfolk, Virginia, Robert Coburn graduated from Maury High School and then spent three years in the U.S. Army.  Upon his discharge he enrolled in the Norfolk Division of the College of William and Mary VPI as an engineering student.  A year later he transferred to Richmond Professional Institute (now VCU) in Richmond, Virginia, as an advertising major, receiving a Bachelor of Science in Advertising.
Coburn spent his advertising career at major ad agencies in New York and Los Angeles.  He worked ten years with Doyle Dane Bernbach in New York, starting as a copywriter and becoming a Vice President Copy Supervisor.
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Interview with Author Nancy J. Cohen

Award-winning author Nancy J. Cohen writes humorous mysteries starring a hairstylist as well as paranormal romance novels with a sci-fi or fantasy twist. A line describing one of her books asks,Can a free-spirited ceramic artist and a fierce swordsman trust each other enough to prevent disaster?” Clearly, she is not your usual suspect when it comes to mystery and romance fiction. Cohen will appear with nearly two-dozen crime-fiction and true crime authors at the inaugural Mystery Writers Key West Fest this June 13-15, 2014.
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Interview with Heather Graham

New York Times and USA Today best selling author, Heather Graham, majored in theater arts at the University of South Florida. Her first book was with Dell, and since then, she has written more than one hundred novels and novellas including category, suspense, historical romance, vampire fiction, time travel, occult and Christmas family fare. She has been published in approximately twenty languages, and has 75 million books in print.
Continue Reading Here. . .

Interview with Author Carla Norton

Acclaimed novelist and #1 New York Times bestselling true crime writer Carla Norton joins the Mystery Writers Key West Fest June 13-15 as a guest panelist and moderator. A former newspaper and Readers Digest journalist, Norton is author of “Disturbed Ground,” the true story of a boardinghouse proprietor found guilty of murdering tenants and “planting” their bodies in her garden. She is co-author of “Perfect Victim,” the chilling #1 New York Times Paperback Nonfiction Best Seller about the kidnapping of Colleen Stan, “the girl in the box.”  Her debut fiction work, “The Edge of Normal,” has been nominated for a THRILLER AWARD for Best First Novel.
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To Contact Mystery Fest Key West

Please write to: Mystery Fest Key West,
926 Truman Avenue,
Key West, Florida 33040
or Email Us info@mysteryfestkeywest.com