Sunday, May 24, 2015

Arleen Alleman cruises into a new book

Arleen Alleman is a former senior analyst with the Government Accountability Office where she wrote extensively on many topics ranging from military satellite systems and highway technologies to endangered species and biotechnology. She has a science education, but also worked as a fashion model, teacher, insurance adjuster, jewelry designer, and proprietor of a home d├ęcor shop. Her interests include reading, health and fitness, origin and history of world religions, and travel. Her trips supply authentic backdrops and narration for her fictional stories. Born in England and raised in New Hampshire and Nevada, she lived in Colorado for many years. She now lives in SW Florida with her husband, Tim. She is the author of five Darcy Farthing adventure novels.

Have some Banoffee pie (an English concoction of banana, toffee, and cream with chocolate shavings)  and a cup of tea while we discuss A Current Deception.

Why, thank you, Susan. I love it!

Wow! You certainly have an interesting background.
How many books have you written altogether?

So far, I have written five novels. All are in the Darcy Farthing adventure series. The stories take place in many different locations and have elements of a travel log along with the murder-mystery story lines. Every book has the word current in the title and this is a play on words referring to my protagonist’s life philosophy, which she mentions from time-to-time. I have to say that once on the road of using the same word in each title, it becomes more difficult to come up with a satisfactory meaningful title.

Give a short synopsis of A Current Deception.

A Current Deception finds Darcy and her new husband, Mick, on a cruise around Australia with her daughter and granddaughter, and some close friends. Readers of previous books in the series already know these characters, but I always strive to have each book stand on its own. In this case, all the characters are anticipating having a relaxing fun vacation in a new environment including a honeymoon for Mick and Darcy and a wedding for friends Sid and Brooks.

Biochemist and pragmatist Darcy is embarking on a new career path as an investigative reporter following her success wherein Time purchased a story from her. She has come to understand that her curiosity and investigative nature cannot be denied. The cruise immediately takes a disconcerting turn when a small town Kansas woman and her husband are plagued by an infestation of invasive yellow crazy ants, mysteriously cancelled tour reservations, and illness caused by a mysterious food-borne pathogen. These bizarre and relatively minor incidents escalate when the ants injure more people. After a passenger dies in a hit and run incident on a street in Adelaide, other passengers come under attack aboard the ship. As crimes escalate, Brooks who is also her ex-husband comes under suspicion and the ship’s security chief refuses to look any further for a suspect. Clue by clue, Darcy unravels a complex plot by a master of disguise and world class computer hacker intent on revenge for a twenty-year-old crime.  
How much of yourself is hidden in the characters in the book?

I don’t believe I’ve ever been asked this interesting question so directly before. I would think that all authors have some of themselves hidden in the characters. For me, there is no question that Darcy and I share some personality traits. I think she is more like a role model to me than an alter ego. Like Darcy, I am a humanist and a scientist at heart. She is a woman who strives for the high moral ground and often achieves it, but constantly battles her mistakes and flaws. I say that she is an edgy character, but it is probably more accurate to say she is controversial as are some social issues addressed in the stories. As for the rest of the characters, I don’t know if I am hidden in them, but in many cases I certainly hope not. To my knowledge none of them are patterned after actual people I have known.

So you travel to do research or for inspiration. Can you share some special places with us?

Yes, that is very much the case. So far, the series takes place in a wide range of locations where I have visited either on land or by cruise ship. That is, seaports all around the Caribbean, South America, Mexico, and Australia, as well as Colorado Springs, Las Vegas, SW Florida, Seattle, and D.C. One of the unique things about these stories is the varied settings and the travel log of sorts that Darcy narrates through the stories. Along with working to solve the mystery, she presents tidbits of history, geography, and anthropology, and is particularly interested in the roots of human culture and religion, the fate of indigenous populations, and genetics.

What do you think is the greatest lesson you’ve learned about writing so far? What advice can you give new writers?

No book is for everyone. Many people who like fiction will not even consider reading a novel if they believe the subject is outside their belief system or somehow unpleasant to them. This becomes apparent in talking with folks at book signings. No author should ever feel let down by this simple reality because there are always lots of other people who will think the content is wonderful or at least thought-provoking. So, an author should stay true to her own heart in writing regardless of any negative comments on subject or language. Now that is not to say that criticism of the writing style, and plot and character development, should not be taken to heart as well. For me, the writing process is a learning curve that never ends. I listen to every critique and try to use the comments to improve. I would like to think the books are getting better as I go along.
Where do you store ideas for later use: in your head, in a notebook, or on a spreadsheet?

Actually, I sit down and type out a list that is a very rough outline of any idea I have, including the subjects that will need to be researched. At that point, there isn’t necessarily a full story, but I can go back and add to the outline as ideas occur to me. In this manner a story with chapter delineations eventually emerges. For me, brainstorming at the keyboard is very productive. Also, at the beginning of the process I use a big piece of newsprint to outline the characters I plan to include and overall plots. Then I connect them with lines to map out relationships. I think my years of analysis and auditing for GAO instilled a need for structure even with the creative process.

We all know how important promoting our work has become. How do you get the word out both off and online?

I use social media, primarily Facebook and Twitter as well as a myriad of book and author sites, like Book Town. I try to get as much exposure online as possible. My genre is so huge that it is very difficult to stand out among the tens of thousands of mystery novels and series. I work at getting reviewers to read the books, and then highly publicize the reviews.

I have also built a rapport with a number of B&N store managers in several states where they allow me to have book signings every few months. This is a great experience and a way to meet potential readers.

Can you tell us your future writing goals/projects?

At this point, I plan to continue with the series. I am working on Darcy number six now.
I try to write entertaining murder-mysteries, but I have to admit there are subtle and not so subtle messages contained in the stories. I hope fiction lovers will enjoy the fast-paced writing style and will also find some thought provoking and even educational content.

However, I have ideas for novels not in the series that might be set in a future where climate change and water shortages have radically changed cultures all over the world. I’m not interested in writing dystopian novels but would like to address the reality of living in a greatly changed world of perhaps 200 years in the future, and explore how the physical changes will affect human emotions and beliefs.

Where can folks learn more about your books and events?

My website is . There the reader can learn about the books and about me, check out any scheduled book signings, read news articles, reviews, and book excerpts, and access my Amazon and Barnes and Noble book pages.

Are your books available in print and ebook formats? (please provide the buy link for easy reader accessibility)

All my books are available in ebook, as well as hard and soft cover formats.

And on Barnes & Noble at

Thanks for dropping by, Arleen. I wish you lots of great travels and inspiration for many more good reads.

Thank you, Susan. And the pie was delicious.


Mary Deal said...

Oh my! Once you've read the rest of the series and loved them, how can you not read the next, and the next. This is how a TBR list gets lengthened. Nice to hear there's another now and yet another on the way.

Susan Whitfield said...

I know, right, Mary Deal? I actually have 3-4 TBR baskets overflowing while I attempt to finish my historical fiction, but I can't stop adding books. LOL. I'm obsessed but it's great to have connections to so many talented writers.

Arleen Alleman said...

Thanks, Mary. You are so kind. Thanks Susan for the great job on the interview.