Today at Novels Alive, we welcome cozy mystery writer, Gloria Oliver. Welcome, Gloria!
What drives your story forward in your books the most, the characters or the plot, or do you feel they are intertwined?
In Black Jade, the characters push the story forward. But in Alien Redemption, the plot does most of the pushing. Which one is more prominent will depends on the story itself and how it wants to be told. But in all my novels, both character and plot are intertwined to move the story forward; it may just be a little heavier on one side than the other. 😊
If you were a character in one of your books, which would you be? The protagonist, mentor, villain, love interest, etc.?
More than likely, I would be a ‘spear-carrier.’ That or the overtly helpful lady next door. I might even end up being one of the victims. 😝
If you had the power to make any of your books into a film, which would it be and why?
Oh! A tough question! Let’s see. I believe In the Service of Samurai would be the one I would choose. It’s not your typical story. It has a decent dose of action, plus it would require a lot of CGI and special effects. (Undead samurai and ninja for the win!) The exotic locations within this fantasy Japan would make for some incredible visuals. It would be fantastic to see Asaka’s ship slowly rise from beneath the waves, glowing as it broke the surface into a starlit night. 🥰
Is there a particular genre of fiction that you have always wanted to write, but haven’t yet tackled?
It used to be cozy mysteries, but in 2021, I’ve finally worked on that one. All my other novels are fantasy, young adult, or science fiction. I even have a horror novelette. So currently, I’m satisfied, but you never know what the muse will decide to want to tackle in the future. 😁
If you could meet a literary character or author, who would you most like to meet?
Do I have to choose just one? 😱 It would most likely be Sherlock Holmes or Sir Arthur Conan Doyle. It would be mesmerizing to watch Holmes work. But it would also be fun asking Doyle about his personal experiences with the supernatural and the doctor he based Holmes’ character on.
Sherlock, however, has competition in this arena. Meeting Arsene Lupin, the gentleman thief, would also be a lot of fun! (Arsene Lupin was created in France about the same time as Sherlock Holmes appeared in England. The author of Arsene Lupin even used Holmes as a nemesis for Lupin (until they got caught for copyright infringement! This is why Sherlock’s name was changed to Herlock Sholmes and other weird combinations in some of the editions!)
As with the rest of us, you have a real life to live. So, in your most recent book, what was happening in your life and how did it influence your writing?
During the first draft of Black Jade, most of the world was living through the pandemic. I was also working ten plus hours a day at an oil & gas company’s accounting department. I did several staycations, as I had accumulated a lot of vacation time, and used those to make progress on the book! I was still fighting with some post-surgery issues from the prior year, which had made life even more complicated. Researching historical tidbits for the novel and getting to know the characters did a lot to keep me sane. I don’t think it influenced the book, but you never know.
Was there something in your first edit that didn’t make it in the final copy that you sometimes wish you would have kept?
I had a snafu regarding the novel Alien Redemption. I’d reworked the first chapter to include more details about the bar where Claudia meets a captain for an interview to get a ship’s medical officer position. The publisher and I got some wires crossed, and those changes did not make it into the final product. I didn’t even notice this until two years later when I had to do a virtual reading and felt something was missing. DOH!
What do you do to prepare your mind to write? To get into the mind of your characters.
Writing around the same time each day puts me in the writing mindset automatically. It’s become an ingrained habit. Creativity is like a muscle. The more you use it, the more work it can do—but within limits. You don’t want to cause burnout. If I need an extra push, I read over what I wrote the previous day to refresh myself on where I was headed.
What book as a child/adolescent most influenced you as a writer?
I believe it was Stranger In A Strange Land by Robert Heinlein. The book was a gift from my uncle, which he sent as a birthday present in my early teens. While it was adult science fiction, so I didn’t understand all the concepts or nuances in the novel, it still sparked my imagination and intellect like no other book before. Not only did it solidify my love of science fiction and fantasy, but it led me to start working on my own worlds.
How much research went into your last book?
Way, way, way too much! Lol. Since Black Jade is set in 1930 Dallas, a ton of research was needed to get the right flavor and history. My biggest challenge was not using words or phrases that weren’t used before that date. This sounds easy, but it’s not! You’d be amazed at the terms that have been around forever versus those which didn’t come into use until after 1930. A good example is the term ‘nut cases’—while the word ‘nuts’ has been used to mean ‘crazy person’ since 1903, the term ‘nut cases’ wasn’t used until 1959!
What’s one of the most important things you’d like your readers to know about you? What defines you most as an author?
I want to write books that will do for others what books have always done for me. I want to share the journeys down the rabbit holes and the travails and triumphs of those whose stories I’ve written.
What is one thing about you that may surprise your readers?
You would not think it from my last name, but I am a Puerto Rican (aka boriqua).
Puerto Rico is a small island in the Caribbean that is only around 50 miles wide to 100 miles long. It had an indigenous people called Taino before being settled by the Spanish. The island remained a part of the Spanish empire until the Spanish-American war, when it became a United States property. Spanish is still the primary language, with English considered a second one.
The mix of cultures in Puerto Rico and then moving to Ohio as a teen gave me experiences that I have been able to weave into the layers of several of my novels. It’s given me a perspective I might not have otherwise obtained. I think it made my writing better.
Can you tell us what prompted you to write your latest release?
Before this point, I’ve only ever written standalone books. But I decided I wanted to do a series. Having long loved the works of Carole Nelson Douglas and other mystery writers, I decided that would be the genre I would use. Then I picked a period in history I had not seen often utilized for mystery fiction—the 1930s. I chose the city of Dallas, TX, because I live near there and it has a full and rich history. A documentary I’d stumbled across months before about the history of creating the color green gave me the murder weapon for the first book.
I love Sherlock Holmes, so I wanted a pair for the amateur sleuths. Then I spent a while thinking about what type of person would fascinate me, and hopefully others, as the driving force behind the puzzle-solving duo—and that’s how I met Daiyu Wu. This, in turn, led me to discover Jacques Haskin. Then, out of nowhere, a canine presence demanded attention. So our duo turned into a trio! Prince Razor joining the team gave a new dimension to explore and added to the fun. The more research I did into the period, the more information I found supporting I’d made the right decision.
What’s next for you? What are you working on now?
I’ve already started work on Book 2 for the Daiyu Wu Mystery series. I also have an unfinished urban fantasy novel, for which I finally figured the angle I could use to make it into a series as well. Between trying to get those completed, I need to keep pushing marketing efforts and find other ways to get my name out there. No rest for the wicked! 😝 (The writing biz is not for the faint of heart.)
Thank you, Gloria, for joining us and for giving us a little insight into you, your writing process, and into your latest release, Black Jade!
A Daiyu Wu Mystery: Book 1
Publication Date: May 11, 2021
Could an old-fashioned ballgown be used to commit murder?
Daiyu Wu is aware that fear of the Yellow Terror has made her nationality a rare breed in the Lone Star State. Being Chinese and blind makes her doubly unique in 1930: Dallas. Despite these impediments, anyone who dismisses her for either fact does so at their peril.
One day, at her family-owned laundry business, Dai detects the scent of burned garlic. With the help of her companion, Jacques, the source is soon discovered. It is a green ballgown. The gown has money pinned inside it to pay for the cleaning, but oddly, it came with no address label to identify its owner. Her extensive knowledge leads Dai to believe someone has committed murder using arsenic. The perpetrator is trying to use White Laundry to hide the evidence. But no mention of foul play turns up in the newspapers, and there’s not enough proof to convince the police there’s been a crime.
Her curiosity and intellect stimulated like never before; Dai ignores the possible consequences and sets out to solve the mystery with the help of her canine companion, Prince Razor, and her confidant, Jacques Haskins. It’s either that or let the killer get away with it — assuming a spoiled popinjay, his jealous self-appointed girlfriend, and Dai’s overprotective parents don’t get in her way.
Gloria Oliver lives in Texas, staying away from rolling tumbleweeds while bowing to the never-ending wishes of her feline and canine masters. Her previous works have been fantasy, urban fantasy, and young adult fantasy novels. Several contain romantic and mystery elements. Her short stories of speculative fiction can be found in many anthologies, covering things from the fantastic and strange to a Bubba Apocalypse.
Her latest release, Black Jade: A Daiyu Wu Mystery is Gloria’s first cozy historical mystery novel. This is her ninth published novel.
Gloria is a member in good standing of BroadUniverse though she has yet to make the list for Cat Slaves R Us. In her spare time (what’s that?), she watches TV shows, movies, anime, plays PC games, and reads books.
For some free reads, novel related short stories, sample chapters, appearance schedule and more information on her and her works, please drop by and visit her at www.gloriaoliver.com
July 12 – Novels Alive – AUTHOR INTERVIEW
July 12 – Ruff Drafts – SPOTLIGHT
July 13 – Baroness’ Book Trove – CHARACTER INTERVIEW
July 13 – Celticlady’s Reviews – SPOTLIGHT
July 14 – Literary Gold – SPOTLIGHT
July 14 – Sapphyria’s Book Reviews – SPOTLIGHT
July 15 – Cozy Up With Kathy – REVIEW, AUTHOR INTERVIEW
July 15 – FUONLYKNEW – SPOTLIGHT
July 16 – Maureen’s Musings – SPOTLIGHT
July 16 – MJB Reviewers – SPOTLIGHT
July 17 – Here’s How It Happened – REVIEW
July 17 – Escape With Dollycas Into A Good Book – SPOTLIGHT
July 18 – I Read What You Write – AUTHOR INTERVIEW
July 18 – #BRVL Book Review Virginia Lee Blog – SPOTLIGHT