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Winter 2013


The Usual Questions Project

More authors have answered The Usual Questions, our quirky, Q and A sessions.

Anyone who is a professional can be part of the project: authors, illustrators, film-makers, performers. The Usual Questions index page has a list of the authors and actors participating in the project.

Collage, signatures, autographs, photographs, authors; 120x136 ; 1x1

Festivale Adds to the Series Pages

This issue we've added pages for three series by journalist and fiction author John Sandford (John Roswell Camp). Davenport published the first Kidd and LuEllen book and his first Lucas Davenport (Prey) book at the same time, so the publishers asked him to use a pseudonym for one to differentiate between the two different books. The Davenport series has been much more successful and now the Kidd and LuEllen books have been rereleased under the name John Sandford.

book cover, Mind Prey, John Davenport; 85x140

Kidd is an artist who supplements his income with fair and foul computer consulting, which occasionally requires a bit of physical illegal entry. Illegal entry is what LuEllen is all about, and she is Kidd's partner in crime in this caper series.

Lucas Davenport is a hard man. A Minnesota cop who isn't afraid of exercising his own brand of justice. We follow his career from local law enforcement to state-based Bureau of Criminal Apprehension (BCA), while his part-time employment as a games designer puts his personal fortune in the millions and buys him a trademark Porsche.

Virgil Flowers, who Davenport hires in the BCA to do "the hard jobs" is a detective with blond surfer-dude hair who is just as likely to be dragging his boat and trailer along to the crime scene. He too has a part-time job -- as a writer of "outdoor" articles.

The Virgil Flowers stories interleave with the Lucas Davenport series, and Kidd makes appearances in some of the Davenport series. The series pages include reading order notes to help avoid spoilers. We read these books at a rate of one-a-day to write up the series. It's a hell of a ride. Enjoy!

Discovering the Richness of Crime

For many years I read science fiction almost exclusively. I read the 'classics' of English Literature, which included a surprising number of books translated into English, but for pleasure it was SF.

But SF moved into a fashion of dreariness and I wanted something that offered more -- what I found was crime. I grew up with Agatha Christie -- the grande dame of crime, but then I discovered female investigators written by female authors. Sara Paretsky is often held to be the inventor of the modern female investigator with her Chicago-based female PI, V.I. Warshawski. From the pen of British journalist and fiction writer Val McDermid came Manchester-based P.I. Kate Brannigan and lesbian journalist Lindsay Gordon. McDermid is also known now for her Tony Hill series televised as Wire in the Blood.

So many of those new friends are now sadly out of print. I hope that digital distribution of books (ebooks) and ereaders will make them accessible again. This is one of the reasons that I embarked on the research and testing that resulted in this month's cover story Ereaders, What They Are Like.

Recently, taking a break from my return to academia, I took advantage of the time to discover what had been written while I was studying. I started following trails left by authors. Someone mentioned Nora Roberts, so I read her. Yep, all but her first published book and a Western title. This includes the fun science fiction crime series she writes under the name J D Robb -- the Eve Dallas and Roarke (In Death) series. Including novellas in collections that alone was 46 titles and there are more to come.

So why am I enjoying crime? Good crime makes the setting a character. Who, what, where, when and why are necessary ingredients in crafting a mystery. If those elements are missing there is no logic in the investigation and resolution. These ingredients should be as strong in all genres, but they don't seem to be.

What I also discovered is that while I was innocently studying the Spanish verb forms sex was happening. The Nora Roberts was a bit of a shock, but not so much as discovering that so many of the new female investigators are enjoying sex of the other kind. Frankly, I find any long, drawn out sex scenes slow the story, but I wonder, do hetero sex scenes turn off non-heteros and vice versa? Personally, when the sex starts, I start flipping forward the virtual pages to when the story action starts again. Maybe I'm missing the point.

Still, looking at all those crime series in print, crime certainly pays, and the books are so much thinner than the tomes coming out of the SF and Fantasy mills.

Have You Checked Out StoryBundle?

An interesting place to watch for books by indie authors is StoryBundle. They put together bundles that are available for a fixed period of time, but not at a fixed price. That's right. It works a bit like software where you make a donation towards the cost of development.

In this case there's a suggested donation, and if you meet it, you get a bonus of extra books. If you don't meet it, you just get the bundle. Festivale will be reviewing two titles from the October/November thriller bundle, but don't wait for us -- check out the concept.

New in November 2013

Short reviews of books we've seen this month in Reading Matters. We'll be adding to it as the month goes on.

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