Friday, October 22, 2010

4 Crime Stories in 4 Minutes

Benjamin Sobieck is my guest today. Welcome, Ben. Please tell us a little about yourself.

Thanks, Susan. I’m an online editor/journalist by day, journalist/online editor by night and crime fiction author when I should be sleeping. At this pace, I should be incoherent by 40.

How did you get into crime fiction?

I work in non-fiction 40 hours a week. You need a break from typing reality sometimes. I’ve keyed the word “recently” so much, I forget what it means. I just throw it into what I’m doing, because it must be in there somewhere.

I got into crime fiction back when I was a cub newspaper reporter. I covered crime and government - sometimes both at once. Since I already enjoyed creative writing, crime fiction seemed like a good fit. It let me analyze the screwball degenerates I was encountering.

So crime fiction allows you to explore crime itself?

Deep down, we’re all criminals. Save for your family and friends, the rest of the world can die on a vine so long as our basic needs are met. That means putting your neighbor on a pitchfork rotisserie to feed your family.

But most people don’t do that. The fabric of society partitions “people” from “animals fighting over food.” Most stay on the former, but criminals are in tune with the latter.

That’s why crime fiction is so appealing. It allows readers to reconnect with that primal instinct without killing someone. Unless they’re looking for inspiration. But psychopaths usually stick to literature.

Crime fiction readers are killers?

Absolutely. If released into the wild, they would put the Mongol hordes to shame.

Okay, you're really stepping on my tender toes now. LOL. I've be trying to hide that instinct.

I can only hope to distract their bloodlust for a few pages. I’m a humble author. It’s the best I can do.

How would you describe your style of writing?

I like incorporating experimental concepts into what I create. But not in a gimmicky or “Look what I can do, ma!” kind of way. The experimental twist is much more subtle. It isn’t obvious the way it hits you. When it does, you’ll probably say, “That was pretty cool,” not “This author is a douche.”

What experimental crime fiction have you put out recently?

Recently. There’s that word again! Agghh, I’m off to join the Mongol hordes.


As of late (that’s better), I put together an anthology of four flash fiction pieces published previously online. It’s called 4 Killer Crime Stories in 4 Minutes. It’s available as an ebook on my website (, Smashwords, Scribd and some other online retailers that aren’t set up as of this interview.

The collection is actually a benefit. For me. Before you say, “Don’t all books benefit the author?” allow me to explain. I received a kidney transplant earlier this year. It saved my life, for which I’m forever grateful. But the pills and procedures necessary to keep me going put me in a tough spot, especially since this economy isn’t helping my wife find work.

It’s like this. Proceeds from 4 Killer Crime Stories in 4 Minutes go toward drugs I need to keep my kidney healthy. Readers get the bonus of good juju with their crime fiction.

Outside of that, my debut crime novel, Cleansing Eden, will be published June 15, 2011, by Shadow Line Press. That seems light years away for this anxious author.

Where can people find out more about you?

My website is I highly recommend it as a time waster at work. I worked hard to make it that way.

And since you’re already wasting time at work on Facebook and Twitter, I’m on there, too. Plus, CrimeSpace and Book Town.

Anything else you’d like to add?

To prevent young Timmy from killing again, I had no choice but to include his letter in 4 Killer Crime Stories in 4 Minutes. The Midwest can sleep in peace again tonight.

Wednesday, October 20, 2010

Gordon Mathieson: The Color of Ice

My guest today is author, Gordon Mathieson. Welcome, Gordon. Grab a cup of coffee and tell us a little about yourself.

I am retired now, finishing my 20 year career as Director of IT as Yale University. So my wife and I moved to Cape Cod where we always summered and with time on my hands I invented a trivia board game, The Cape Cod & islands Challenge. Now with all the research I had done, I decided to take the factoids and develop a mystery…..the rest is history as they say…..

What books came along at just the right time to influence your reading/writing?

I enjoy reading all sorts of books and genres, but favor mysteries. That is why my works are in the mystery genre…always in the mystery genre….but cozy mysteries where the average Jane or John Doe come across the crime and solve the mystery without cops, FBI or any authority.

Tell us about your latest book. Is it available in print, ebook, and Kindle formats?

My latest suspense mystery, The Color of Ice is available only in print, but I am open to other vehicles to get the story into the hands of readers.

Do you think your writing has improved since your first attempt? If so, in what way?

In so many ways, have I improved. Especially taking my time….. I actually enjoy the “re-work-editing” more than penning the original text….I likened it to sculpting, where you have a block of clay and make a rough model, but the fun and excitement is in the fine chiseling, shaping and smoothing.

Were any of your books more challenging to write than the others? If so, why?

I think my latest was the more challenging since I had to refresh my knowledge of Mandarin Chinese for some of the sentences and phrases…and also had to consult with scientists to ascertain some assumptions.

How do you develop characters? Setting?

I love to develop characters and readers tell me that is my forte. I try to give the reader a good visual and profile of the character early in the book, and if the character changes (arc) they will feel the change as well.

I write only about areas I am familiar with or have visited.

How do you determine voice in your writing?

I always take the third person and try to keep with only one POV, but in one book I had to used two POV.

Describe your ideal reader.

Someone who can spend at least a few hours as a time to read and not snippets during their lunch our etc. Someone who gets into the plot and lets themselves drift into the storyline, venue, etc.

After hours of intense writing, how do you unwind?

I walk…I love to walk

Me too!
Any current projects?

Yes. I just completed my first Young Adult mystery novel with a teenage girl as the super sleuth ala a contemporary Nancy Drew story.
Where can folks learn more about your books and events?

My website is and people can ask questions of me through that. And I am on FaceBook.

Thanks for dropping by, Gordon, and continued success! By the way, congratulations on your recent cover award. It's quite eye-catching.

Monday, October 18, 2010

The Novels of Joyce Godwin Grubbs

My guest today is Joyce Godwin Grubbs. Joyce, welcome to my blog.
Please tell folks who you are.

Thanks, Susan. My experience with underground relocation and protection services for victims of rape/sexual assault and domestic violence victims was vital preparation to write my novels. I collaborated with decorated pioneer policewoman and sex crime expert Trula Godwin. I am Founder and direct “The Trula Godwin Project”, an underground victim's program in her name. (

I won the Epsilon Sigma Alpha International Award in Iowa, and finished in the top five in international competition. This was in recognition of a non-profit organization I co-founded to work with: the homeless, addicts, mentally ill and special need people. My many years of work as a trained advocate on the crisis lines, shelters, and as a nurse in adult and child psychiatric residential care, have provided unending opportunities for materials and unique insights.

I am a published photo/journalist and recipient of the “Editor’s Choice Award 2009" for contributions as a freelance writer for the internet news network. (CMN).Cable Muse Network and also contribute to the Cable Box Blog. I won publication of two winning non-fiction contest essays in the Quad City Times (circulation 67, 467) in consecutive years. I have done online technical writing for private corporate companies for their products, marketing, and political contributions. As a speaker, I have also been a ghostwriter for other speakers.

My life has led me to many intriguing experiences with politicians, criminals, and being privy to the integral workings of the “shadow world” that exists around us in our cities. I am honored to be among those to whom much trust was given by the people of the streets, and was protected by the “code of the street people” as I helped those who walked on “the wild side.”

I have completed eight novels ( romantic/suspense and mystery/suspense). All eight are on Amazon Kindle Ebooks. My novels are stand-alone manuscripts though known collectively as the “Greyhound Lady Walking” series.

I write strong ensemble stories, with lead characters that are often “damaged” but they never give up. They sometimes fail, but always achieve their goal and learn more through the process. I present strong female and male perspectives. These books are “insights” into a “shadow world “most people do not even know exists yet it is “happening” all around them as they live and sleep. The integration of real life cases, fictionalized assures the reader a powerful read. I invite you to join them in experiencing a literary walk on the wild side.

Intriguing, indeed. What a wonderful service you provide, and I'm certain that rich fodder for writing surrounds you.

What books came along at just the right time to influence your reading/writing?

What are your writing goals?

I want people to read my books for the second time then apply the “ new knowledge” to their lives. I call my novels “WAR stories for men and women”. Women, Adversity, Romance. In each book, a strong, lead, female character is overcoming adversity against great odds. I deal with issues of domestic violence, rape/sexual assault, child abuse, male rape, gang rapes, and recovery issues victims’ face in their sexuality. In each book are positive solutions, innovative new programs, and “possibilities” of new approaches to saving high-risk victims. Oh, and did I mention they are filled with humor?

What is your most rewarding experience during the writing process?

I had a content reader call me and want me to drive her to the location of the book so she could volunteer to work with “the program of the Monday Night Flight Club”. She had to see that place, and become a part of that work. I had to remind her it was fiction. However, it validated my goal is being reached; to get people into the hearts and minds of victims and cause them to become proactive in caring and supporting victim issues.

Tell us about your latest book. Is it available in print, ebook, and Kindle formats?

The Greyhound Lady Walking series (of seven novels) is on Kindle as is my mystery suspense book, Mysteries of the Dogwood Diaries. Synopsis: A legacy is left through generations of women who write in the Dogwood Diaries translating oral history to the printed word. The loss of one of the women and her diary is the catalyst for the determined family matriarch, Marguerite McKenna to find them, to preserve her family and its legacies. She summons Blaine Stryker in a public and not so subtle way.

Blaine Stryker has distinguished herself in investigative reporting and is a Pulitzer Prize nominee when her childhood nemesis summons her. Having gone underground in her youth, Blaine fights to protect her new identity but is forced to pay an old debt to Marguerite’s granddaughter and the indomitable “Biddy” who once helped save her life. This is complicated by the federal agent from Texas, Walker Rhoades who believes she is complicit in crimes against Ms. McKenna and murder. Blaine and Walker Rhoades will have to unite to solve five mysteries in the book to prove her innocence.

Do you think your writing has improved since your first attempt? If so, in what way?

Definitely grittier, and I go right to the heart of the matter. I write more about the story and less with the concern of whether it is entertaining. More about whether it is faithful in telling the essence of the truth about the events and feelings of the character. I found it became more than entertaining. It became life affirming to allow readers to walk on the wild side and be an integral part of the struggles and triumphs.

Were any of your books more challenging to write than the others? If so, why?

The most challenging book for me was Mysteries of the Dogwood Diaries. It was my first variation from the “Greyhound Lady Walking” series, and the eighth book. It is pure mystery and suspense, and the others were real cases fictionalized. I just had to put them all in context, but Dogwood Diaries was one hundred per cent imagination.

How does your environment/upbringing color your writing?

No doubt, my life experiences working so many years in active victim services, and creating an organization to put high-risk victims underground certainly contributed. I was fortunate to work with my sister who was a decorated, pioneer policewoman and a sex crime expert. She went on the force after being raped in her home after the birth of her fifth child. We collaborated for more than twenty years, until she succumbed to breast cancer.

After hours of intense writing, how do you unwind?

I spend time with my husband and greyhounds. I also mentor seniors to get them “techno-savvy” on the Internet and Kindles.

Any current projects?

 In November I am doing NANOWRIMO for the third time. Two of my books are the result of being a winner in 2008 and 2009, For those who are not familiar, it’s the international challenge to write a novel of at least 50,000 words in 30 days. I loved it and The Monday Night Flight Club was my first, and Mysteries of the Dogwood Diaries my second. Of course the rule is: write with no editing until December. They are actually two of my favorite books.
Facebook account is: Joyce Godwin Grubbs

Twitter account is: GrassrootAuthor

Joyce, I have enjoyed interviewing you. I wish you well with your writing, your foundation, and your worthy endeavors.