Tag Archives: Thriller

Q&A: Object of Desire by Dal Maclean

Title: Object of Desire

Gay, m/m, thriller, psychological thriller, mystery

Buy links:

Amazon

Smashwords

Print: $18.95

Digital: $6.99

Author: Dal Maclean www.dalmaclean.com

Author Goodreads: https://www.goodreads.com/author/show/15408926.Dal_Maclean

Author Twitter: @MacleanDal – Dal Maclean

Author Facebook: https://www.facebook.com/people/Dal-Maclean/100010371585020

Author Insta: dalmaclean

Publisher One Block Empire (an imprint of Blind Eye Books) www.blindeyebooks.com

Publisher Twitter: @blindeyebooks

Publisher Insta: @blindeyebooks

Release date: May 22, 2018

Page count: 310

Q&A with Dianne and Dal Maclean

I recently had the pleasure of chatting with the gracious and clever Dal MacLean, author of Bitter Legacy, a 2017 Lambda Literary Award Finalist for Best Gay Mystery. Dal’s highly anticipated new novel, Object of Desire, is due out next week. Readers far and wide – including myself! – have raved over Dal’s brilliant work in Bitter Legacy. I have had the delight of reading Object of Desire and assure you I found it every bit as captivating, surprising, and stunning as Bitter Legacy. Read on to discover more about Dal, her writing process, her stories, and more! ~ Dianne

Welcome Dal! Would you give us some basic background on yourself? You were born in Scotland and currently reside there I believe. I’m wondering if you’ve spent time in London as Bitter Legacy and Object of Desire both feature London as a character in her own right.

I was born and grew up on a Scottish island (hence the glancing knowledge of Gaelic) but I’ve been all over the place. Including London – I’ve spent quite a bit of time there and it’s probably my favourite city anywhere. There are just so many aspects to it; it’s like a book character in its own right.

How long have you been writing? Object of Desire is your second published book, correct?

I’ve written for a long time for work (journalism) but I didn’t try writing creatively until I dabbled in fanfic. Then finally after much cajoling and browbeating I tried my hand at a book for publication. ‘Object of Desire’ is indeed my second published book.

It’s actually the third book I’ve written though using my own characters. My first was a ghost story that I thought in my innocence was also an MM romance but it doesn’t fit Romance structure. So strictly speaking I suppose I’ve written three books! That’s better than two. Oh well. I admit it. I’m not prolific. You may have noticed.

What went through your mind when you heard your debut novel, Bitter Legacy, had made it to the LAMBDA finals for Gay Mystery?

At first I think I was just stunned Bitter Legacy was up for any award at all. Truthfully, I don’t think I understood how prestigious the Lambdas are, until I saw other people’s reactions. ‘Very, very grateful’ sums it up.

Early in 2016 I saw accomplished author/editor Nicole Kimberling of Blind Eye Books promoting Bitter Legacy and that Josh Lanyon had written a rousing recommendation for the book. Based on those connections as well as the book synopsis, I immediately knew I NEEDED that book. How did you come to work with Nicole Kimberling and BEB?

Well (I hope you brought a packed lunch) I met Josh through my fanfic writing and she urged me to try writing for publication. And though it took me a while to do it, when I got started she was hugely generous as always and gave me brilliant advice all the way. One of the brilliant pieces of advice she gave me was to send the manuscript of BL (though it didn’t have that title then) to Nicole, as one of the best editors and writers out there, to get her advice. It wasn’t exactly a traditional MM romance after all—more a hybrid.

To my astonishment Nicole decided that she wanted to publish it, provided I was prepared to do a developmental edit. And since that was what I’d desperately wanted – to learn from a good editor who could show me what book writing was all about – I jumped at the chance. I never studied creative writing (my degree was in History) so everything Nicole could teach me about traditional Romance structures and tropes, and Mystery structures and tropes was invaluable.

Plus she really is brilliant fun to work with. I learned a lot through Bitter Legacy. It was a much more leisurely and stately process than Object of Desire.

Bitter Legacy and the upcoming Object of Desire are both meaty mystery/thrillers which feature complex characters. How did you choose to write mystery as a subgenre?

I think… it chose me really. As the ghost story will testify. :p I love reading and watching mysteries, so I find writing them can be great fun. Ironically I used to tell Josh when she was trying to persuade me to try writing original fiction, that while I could do emotion and character I wouldn’t be able to write a proper book because I couldn’t do plot. So its been a surprise to realize that I can produce some twisty stuff.

‘Object’ is actually a psychological thriller, as well as a mystery and a romance which I had no clue about until Nicole broke it to me. ‘Bitter Legacy’ is a police procedural. OOD is faster paced, not as slow build as BL. The core story plays out over a matter o days rather than months as in BL.I wanted to write OOD from the perspective of ‘the hunted’ rather than ‘the hunter’. I actually used one character that straddles both books, to try to point that up. He’s seen from the perspective of hindering the hunter in one book, and helping the hunted in the other. Did you notice?

What other subgenre would you be most likely to explore as a writer?

I love reading Fantasy and Historical, but they feel like much harder work. As it is, trying to marry my current two genres (Romance and Mystery) with something approaching equality, is tough enough.

I understand the research needed for historical is daunting, especially for someone as meticulous about it as you are. How about fantasy though, your rules would rule! There would merely be that “invent an entire world and keep it all sorted” stuff to deal with. LOL

Merely! Yeah. You think I’m not prolific now?

BL and OOD feature characters that, shall we say, experienced less than nurturing and wholesome childhoods. How did this aspect come about and in what ways in general does it help build intrigue and character depth?

In BL, the story almost hinges on that exact issue. The idea first came from a real life criminal case which made me think…what about the kids? In OOD it’s obviously far less extreme.

I want to try to give my characters logical and believable reasons to be as they are. But also to show that the adults they’ve become, were only partly created by childhood experience. Their own character traits also cause them to respond to things that happened in their pasts, in certain ways. They’re– part nature, part nurture.

I don’t think characters have to have had seriously dodgy childhoods to be flawed or insecure though. We all have things in our pasts that moulded us, and those may even seem quite trivial things to other people.

Continuing the characterization theme…you’ve written leading men in each book who exhibit behavior that is somewhat unconventional in romance and even venture into antihero territory. These characters are everything to me, as they are a huge force in keeping the reader guessing, conflicted, engaged and ultimately cheering as these characters evolve.

Its lovely to hear you say that! I do realize my main characters can be challenging as romance heroes in some ways and some readers may react less favourably to them because of that. But I personally prefer genuine character flaws in my heroes (as opposed to being ‘just too self sacrificial’) – both reading and writing. For me personally, that makes characters more 3D and real, and it makes the route to a happy ending more of a challenge. I hope my heroes still scrape under the wire to make it as Romance heroes by the end of each book though.

Your secondary characters are vivid, memorable and crucial. Something I find hugely important as a reader and I feel many authors miss the boat on. How much of yourself did you put into your characters? Are any of them based on real people?

Oh thank you! I haven’t based them on particular individuals, no, but maybe they’re composites of the people I’ve met. They seem become themselves as individuals and increasingly pushy as I write them. I’m not sure why. Two characters inspired by people I’ve met though were Magnus and James Henderson in Bitter Legacy – British public school (that’s fee-paying in the UK), stiff upper lip, essentially very honorable, emotionally inexperienced in James’ case; emotionally constipated in Magnus’.

Your books feature great detail about British Murder Investigation Teams, law enforcement in general, and legal issues. What kind of research do you do, and how much time do you devote to researching before and during the process of writing a book?

Too much. I research a lot. Everything. Things that don’t matter, like the furnishings in a particular pub. I can take months doing it, which doesn’t help my productivity at all. And timelines – I do timelines for the story, and before the story, for any character that looks at me the wrong way. I’m incredibly anal about it. Which is why I don’t dare to try a seriously research-heavy genre like Historical.

Object of Desire takes place in the same “world” as Bitter Legacy – readers will be pleased to get some glimpses of familiar characters. However, OOD is not really a spinoff of any characters we met in BL. Why choose to create new characters and not pick a secondary from BL to flesh out? What led to you deciding for your protagonist, Tom, to be a professional model?

Well at first BL was intended as a standalone and it was structured that way. But the response to James In particular as a character, made me wonder if I should write more with him as the central figure. If it had been a mystery book alone, I think I’d probably have gone that way. But these are romances too, and truthfully I put Jamie and Ben through so much in the course of Bitter Legacy, and Ben in particular was so vulnerable, that I don’t think I could challenge their relationship again in any serious way in a full length book and have their happy ever after be believable. Yet I needed some romantic challenge in book 2.

I’d read a couple of things that intrigued me – the peculiar position and psychology of male modeling (as opposed to female modeling) and an article by the victim of psychological manipulation. I considered one of Ben’s circle in BL as the main character, but I knew I needed someone… remarkable. Someone out of the ordinary, hence Tom Gray. Who I now love to bits by the way, awkward, stubborn sod that he is.

Readers love codas. You gave us a Christmas coda as a follow up to Bitter Legacy. Will you be granting us more from either book?

In future yes, I’d love to. I’m trying to plan out book three though and I think it’ll take place quite soon after ‘Object’. So I’m having to hold back on codas for now in case I fall over my own plot.

If not codas, maybe consider taking a scene from BL or OOD where we only got one character’s POV, and write a coda featuring the other main character’s POV?

Funnily enough someone told me they’d seen speculation that Book 3 might be exactly that…. OOD but from Wills POV and I was horrified! LOL

I think the reason I love tight third and its close friend unreliable narration so much is because they’re close to…real life? We can’t see into other peoples’ minds to understand what they really think or feel or why they’ve done something, so we all judge other people’s behavior and feelings through the prisms of our own insecurities and experiences.

I feel sometimes like dual POV is sort of cheating?? Giving the reader the easy way out. Though as a reader I admit there are times easy’s lovely! :p But let’s face it, it takes away the challenge and uncertainty and tension if you KNOW both characters are feeling the same and struggling too so it’s just a matter of getting over any misunderstandings.

So I’d find it hard to do that because it kind of strips away any mystery or ambiguity left in my books and you know I live for mystery and ambiguity.

What are your plans for future projects?

Ha. See immediately above. I’m plotting out book 3 in the BL universe, which as of now will feature Will Foster from OOD as the main character. So it’ll be back to the hunter’s POV, as in Bitter Legacy.

I love that we’ll get to see more of Will in action. Are you able to say if we’ll see James popping up in this third book again, and if so, how prominently?

At the moment that’s the plan – to give Jamie quite a prominent role. But I’m hoping it’s going to emerge very much Will’s book

Who are some of your favorite authors and in what aspects have they been influential in your writing?

In mystery, I admire Agatha Christie for all kinds of reasons, not least because she was always ready unexpectedly, to make her culprit the person the reader didn’t want it to be, as opposed to an easy option, leaving the reader with no emotional price to pay. I also love that she gave her heroes and heroines real flaws. I think in those aspects – her willingness to do difficult things with her characters and plots for the good of the book – I think that edge of unpredictability has kept her work relevant decades on.

I think something similar could be said of Jane Austen. Her heroines and heroes are still compelling because they’re flawed and vulnerable and make huge mistakes. They’re 3D and recognizably human, across centuries and now-largely-alien cultural values.

Otherwise, in romance, I suspect that fanfic has influenced me more than modern M/F books. Fanfic is definitely more red in tooth and claw emotionally. I’m not sure why. That fanfic inheritance could be why I’ve been told I still don’t really write Romance per se (sniff). Maybe I write a hybrid kind of Mystery/Romance thing that could be a less comfortable read? I saw a lady on twitter describe BL as having ‘fanfic levels of angst’ and I think she was onto something. 😀

I have to ask for myself and for a large amount of fellow readers: any plans for Bitter Legacy to be produced in audio form?

I very much want it to be. I want both books to be. But at this stage I’m not quite sure how to make it happen. I’ll keep trying though, I promise.

————————————

Just for fun questions:

Is it true you sing along with dirges? It’s all I do in my spare time.

What is something you never leave home without? Clothes

Loki or Thor? Loki probably, though he’s an annoying bastard. There I go with the flawed characters again.

Who among your characters do you see yourself being besties with? Argh… After every book I write, I end up in love with my main characters. At the moment its Tom and Will. But, though dare I say, if we’re talking besties to gossip and get pissed with – maybe Steggie from Bitter Legacy? Do I detect hisses of outrage?

Steggie huh? Actually I can see the appeal… to a point!

Aw – he was lovely. Up to a point. 😀 Seriously you’re quite rare as a BL reader. So many people hated my guts over Steggie. They far preferred him to Ben because what Ben did was harder to forgive to many romance readers. (True story!)

Maybe *Pez then. A lot more edge/bitchiness than Stegs, but still – fun to go on the tear with.

*Note to readers: Pez appears in OOD!

Are you at liberty to reveal the present location of Dal Carrington Colby Dexter?

Liberty is the operative word. I have grave tidings from Equatorial Guinea. DCCD has taken cunning advantage of the absence of her ineffectual carer (that’s me) and engineered yet another breakout from her padded cell using a lion, several tons of jewel encrusted high explosive and an egg spoon. She is once again pursuing her plans for galactic domination, beginning with the immediate overthrow of the mighty Lanyon Empire. So. I’ll just dig out the dart gun and the butterfly net. Again.

DCCD is on the loose?!! What type of ruse could we devise to best draw her in?

Diamonds usually work. They work for me too. Just saying.

 

BlurbTom Gray is one of the world’s top models–an effortless object of desire. Self-contained, elusive and always in control, he’s accustomed to living life entirely on his own terms. But when Tom comes under suspicion in the gory death of his employer, his world spirals into chaos.

Someone’s framing him. Someone’s stalking him. And as old secrets come to light, Tom finds his adversary always one step ahead.

Will Foster is the only man Tom trusts to help. But Tom brutally burned all bridges between them two years before, and Will paid a bitter price. If he wants to survive, Tom must prove his innocence to Will–and to the world.

Praise for Object of Desire

Another twisty, densely plotted, utterly satisfying thriller/romance. Highly recommended.” Elin Gregory, author of Eleventh Hour

Praise for Dal Maclean’s debut novel, Bitter Legacy.

“This is a superbly plotted crime novel where the romance is cleverly integrated rather than an obvious add-on and both elements have equal importance and are written with equal intensity. I could hardly put the book down… I award it my highest recommendation…” Desert Island Keeper, BJ Jansen, All About Romance

Bio:  Dal Maclean comes from Scotland. Her background is in journalism, and she has an undying passion for history, the more gossipy and scandalous the better. Dal has lived in Asia and worked all over the world, but home is now the UK. She dislikes the Tragic Gay trope, but loves imperfect characters and genuine emotional conflict in romantic fiction. As an author, and a reader, she believes it’s worth a bit of work to reach a happy ending. Agatha Christie, English gardens and ill-advised cocktails are three fatal weaknesses, though not usually at the same time.

Her first book, “Bitter Legacy”, was a 2017 Lambda Literary Award Finalist for best Gay Mystery and was chosen by the American Libraries Association for their 2018 Over The Rainbow Recommended Books List. 

The Well

Author: Marie Sexton

Publisher: Self

Rating: 4.5 stars

Buy Links: Amazon

Type: Short Novel

Received from Publisher

 

Blurb: Twenty years after prom queen Cassie Kennedy is brutally murdered, six teenagers break into the house where she was killed to hold a séance. Haven knows his cousin Elise only wants to scare the crap out of him and his friends, but he’s willing to put up with one of her pranks if it means a chance to spend a few hours with the new kid in town, Pierce Hunter.

But when morning comes, Elise has disappeared without a trace.

Twelve years later, Pierce and his twin brother Jordan are professional paranormal investigators, starring in their own ghost-hunting TV show. When Pierce calls Haven, insisting they return to the supposedly haunted building one last time, Haven reluctantly agrees. He’s nervous about seeing Pierce again, but he’s determined to get some answers. Did they really speak to Cassie’s ghost that night? What happened to Elise? And the biggest mystery of all – how did she know the secret of the well? Continue reading The Well

A Time to Rise

Author: Tal Bauer

Publisher: NineStar Press

Rating: 4 stars

Buy Links: NSP & Amazon

Type: Novel

Received from Publisher

 

Blurb: History says the Knights Templar were destroyed in 1307.
History is wrong.

Vampires haunt the sewers beneath Rome, revenants desecrate graveyards, ghouls devour helpless passersby, and incubi stalk dark alleys and seedy nightclubs in Italy’s capital. Deep in the Vatican, a brotherhood exists, sworn protectors of the earth, and they stand firm against monsters from the dark depths. Operating in secret and silence, they protect our world from the sinister, the etheric, and the evils that exist beyond the Veil.

But it’s a lonely life, and Alain Autenberg knows that more than most. His lover was ripped from him years ago, and he vowed never to get close to another soul again. Even when the loneliness presses down on him, and his empty heart cries out for something more.

Something more comes in Cristoph Hasse, a new soldier arriving in Rome to serve in the Pontifical Swiss Guard. Young, brash, and fitting in at right angles everywhere he goes, Cris struggles in the murky, deceptive labyrinth of the Vatican. Propelled forward by a past he can’t understand, Cris collides with Alain, and both men crash headfirst into the darkest secret of the Vatican…and of the world.

Continue reading A Time to Rise

The Passenger

passengercover74240-mediumAuthor: Lisa Lutz

Publisher: Simon & Schuster

Rating: 5 stars

Buy Links: Amazon

Type: Novel

Provided by Publisher

 

Blurb: In case you were wondering, I didn’t do it. I didn’t have anything to do with Frank’s death. I don’t have an alibi, so you’ll have to take my word for it…

Forty-eight hours after leaving her husband’s body at the base of the stairs, Tanya Dubois cashes in her credit cards, dyes her hair brown, demands a new name from a shadowy voice over the phone, and flees town. It’s not the first time.

She meets Blue, a female bartender who recognizes the hunted look in a fugitive’s eyes and offers her a place to stay. With dwindling choices, Tanya-now-Amelia accepts. An uneasy―and dangerous―alliance is born.

It’s almost impossible to live off the grid today, but Amelia-now-Debra and Blue have the courage, the ingenuity, and the desperation, to try. Hopscotching from city to city, Debra especially is chased by a very dark secret…can she outrun her past?

With heart-stopping escapes and devious deceptions, The Passenger is an amazing psychological thriller about defining yourself while you pursue your path to survival. One thing is certain: the ride will leave you breathless. Continue reading The Passenger

Ashley Bell

Author: Dean Koontz

Publisher: Bantam

Rating: 4 stars

Buy Links: Amazon

Type: Novel

Received from Publisher

 

Blurb: The girl who said no to death.
 
Bibi Blair is a fierce, funny, dauntless young woman—whose doctor says she has one year to live.
 
She replies, “We’ll see.”
 
Her sudden recovery astonishes medical science.
 
An enigmatic woman convinces Bibi that she escaped death so that she can save someone else. Someone named Ashley Bell.
 
But save her from what, from whom? And who is Ashley Bell? Where is she?
 
Bibi’s obsession with finding Ashley sends her on the run from threats both mystical and worldly, including a rich and charismatic cult leader with terrifying ambitions.
 
Here is an eloquent, riveting, brilliantly paced story with an exhilarating heroine and a twisting, ingenious plot filled with staggering surprises. Ashley Bell is a new milestone in literary suspense from the long-acclaimed master.

Continue reading Ashley Bell

Hanover House (Hanover House Chronicles #0.5)

Author: Brenda Novak

Publisher: Brenda Novak

Rating: 4 stars

Buy Links: Amazon

Type: Novella

Provided by Publisher

 

Blurb:  Welcome to Hanover House….

Psychiatrist Evelyn Talbot has dedicated her life to solving the mysteries of the psychopathic mind. Why do psychopaths act as they do? How do they come to be? Why don’t they feel any remorse for the suffering they cause? And are there better ways of spotting and stopping them?

After having been kidnapped, tortured and left for dead when she was just a teenager—by her high school boyfriend—she’s determined to understand how someone she trusted so much could turn on her. So she’s established a revolutionary new medical health center in the remote town of Hilltop, Alaska, where she studies the worst of the worst.

But not everyone in Hilltop is excited to have Hanover House and its many serial killers in the area. Alaskan State Trooper, Sergeant Amarok, is one of them. And yet he can’t help feeling bad about what Evelyn has been through. He’s even attracted to her. Which is partly why he worries.

He knows what could happen if only one little thing goes wrong…

Continue reading Hanover House (Hanover House Chronicles #0.5)

The Screaming

Author: David Graham

Publisher: Frostbite Publishing

Rating: 2 stars

Buy Links: Amazon

Type: Novel

Provided by Publisher

 

Blurb:What causes an adolescent – straight A student Brandon P Marshall – to walk downstairs naked, armed with a pair of Glocks, and go all Charles Manson on his family? This is only one in the horrifying trail of incidents that brings together Detective Sergeant Dale Franklin of the Kansas City Police Department and his poster-boy rookie, Steve Abrams.
Meanwhile, across the pond, Dai Williams, in Battersea London, safe inside his improvised Faraday cage, is coming to terms with his special talents – talents that will take ‘getting-into-the-mind-of-the-killer’ to a whole new level.
Al-Qaeda? Drugs Cartels? Internet freaks? David Graham’s The Screaming leaves no possibility untouched as Dai enters a bizarre and horrifying world where kids scream.

 

Warning: This review contains spoilers Continue reading The Screaming

Mrs. John Doe

Author: Tom Savage

Publisher: Random House

Rating: 5 stars

Buy Links: Amazon

Type: Novel

Provided by Publisher

 

Blurb: In the adrenaline-laced new novel of suspense from Tom Savage—hailed by Michael Connelly as “a master of the high-speed thriller”—an American actress in Europe races to find the truth behind her husband’s mysterious accident. What she uncovers makes her the target of a shocking conspiracy.
 
Nora Baron’s life is perfect. She lives on Long Island Sound, teaches acting at a local university, and has a loving family. Then one phone call changes everything. She’s informed that her husband, Jeff, has died in a car crash while on a business trip in England. Nora flies to London to identify the body, which the police have listed as a “John Doe.” When she leaves the morgue, a man tries to steal her purse containing Jeff’s personal effects. Clearly, all is not as it seems.

At her hotel, Nora receives a cryptic message that leaves her with more questions than answers. She follows the message’s instructions to France, where a fatal encounter transforms her into a fugitive. Wanted for murder, on the run in a shadowy landscape of lies, secrets, and sudden violence, Mrs. “John Doe” must play the role of a lifetime to stay one step ahead of a ruthless enemy with deadly plans for her—and for the world.
Continue reading Mrs. John Doe

The Girl in the Maze

girlcover68629-mediumAuthor: R.K. Jackson

Publisher: Penguin Random House

Rating: 4 stars

Buy Links: Publisher and Amazon

Type: Novel

Provided by Publisher

 

Blurb: Perfect for fans of Gillian Flynn, Paula Hawkins, and Tana French, R. K. Jackson’s lyrical, twisty psychological thriller debut follows an aspiring journalist as she uncovers dark truths in a seaswept Southern town—aided by a mysterious outcast and pursued by a ruthless killer.

When Martha Covington moves to Amberleen, Georgia, after her release from a psychiatric ward, she thinks her breakdown is behind her. A small town with a rich history, Amberleen feels like a fresh start. Taking a summer internship with the local historical society, Martha is tasked with gathering the stories of the Geechee residents of nearby Shell Heap Island, the descendants of slaves who have lived by their own traditions for the last three hundred years.

As Martha delves into her work, the voices she thought she left behind start whispering again, and she begins to doubt her recovery. When a grisly murder occurs, Martha finds herself at the center of a perfect storm—and she’s the perfect suspect. Without a soul to vouch for her innocence or her sanity, Martha disappears into the wilderness, battling the pull of madness and struggling to piece together a supernatural puzzle of age-old resentments, broken promises, and cold-blooded murder. She finds an unexpected ally in a handsome young man fighting his own battles. With his help, Martha journeys through a terrifying labyrinth—to find the truth and clear her name, if she can survive to tell the tale. Continue reading The Girl in the Maze

In the Dark

Author: Chris Patchell

Publisher: Kindle Press

Rating: 5 stars

Buy Links: Amazon

Type: Novel

Received from Publisher

 

Blurb: Marissa Rooney stands in her daughter’s empty dorm room, a half-used vial of insulin clutched in her trembling hand. Brooke has been missing for days. Her roommate hasn’t seen her since that night in the bar. And if Marissa has Brooke’s insulin, it means that Brooke does not.

But Marissa isn’t alone in her terror. A phantom from her past is lurking in the shadows, waiting in the night, and holding her family captive…

In the dark. Continue reading In the Dark

(and some other stuff)