Hi, everyone, and welcome to this week’s edition of Genre Talk here on The Novel Approach Reviews! Today, we’ve managed to wrangle DSP Publications author C.S. Poe into the dropping by to tell us about her new Mystery/Suspense release The Mystery of Nevermore: Snow & Winter, Book One. So before we get to the grilling, let’s have a look at what C.S. has brought us:
The Mystery of Nevermore
It’s Christmas, and all antique dealer Sebastian Snow wants is for his business to make money and to save his floundering relationship with closeted CSU detective, Neil Millett. When Snow’s Antique Emporium is broken into and a heart is found under the floorboards, Sebastian can’t let the mystery rest.
He soon finds himself caught up in murder investigations that echo the macabre stories of Edgar Allan Poe. To make matters worse, Sebastian’s sleuthing is causing his relationship with Neil to crumble, while at the same time he’s falling hard for the lead detective on the case, Calvin Winter. Sebastian and Calvin must work together to unravel the mystery behind the killings, despite the mounting danger and sexual tension, before Sebastian becomes the next victim.
In the end, Sebastian only wants to get out of this mess alive and live happily ever after with Calvin.
Carole: Ooh, intrigue at every turn! Sounds like a real nail-biter, C.S., which, with a Mystery/Suspense novel, is pretty much the point. 😉 So let’s start with the basics—tell us about your genre.
C.S.: The Mystery of Nevermore is, much like the title suggests, a mystery! It’s a whodunit with an amateur sleuth, and the first book in the Snow & Winter series.
Carole: And we do love a good series! But before we get ahead of ourselves, maybe we should first focus on The Mystery of Nevermore. What can we expect from Book One?
C.S.: Sebastian Snow is an antique dealer who moonlights as an amateur sleuth when an incident in his store causes homicide detective, Calvin Winter, to look at him as a possible murder suspect. In an attempt to clear his name, Sebastian delves deeper into a series of mysterious deaths, which if anyone can imagine, doesn’t put him on Detective Winter’s good side.
Amidst the investigation, Sebastian and Calvin discover a deep-rooted attraction within one another. The story weaves together a mystery that must be solved, with moments of domesticity and romance, blurring the professional and personal lines between the main characters.
Carole: Ah, so complexities of both plot and characterization—lots of fodder for continuing intrigue. Speaking of which, can you give us an idea of what the series that The Mystery of Nevermore is a part of will look like?
C.S.: The Snow & Winter series contains four books. While each book is a standalone mystery, Sebastian and Calvin are always the main characters. The arc of the series focuses on the ongoing relationship and romance between them, and so the books must be read in order.
Carole: So, mysteries and investigations, which means criminal investigation procedures and legal intricacies. What sort of research did you need to do?
C.S.: I research everything. I love to learn, and am full of awesome and maybe totally unnecessary information. I keep my library at-hand and my Internet connection on when I work, because I want to know about everything that is mentioned in the writing. I spent forty minutes reading about hockey (I’m not a sports person) because Sebastian made a vague reference to it. Necessary? Sometimes no, but I believe that even if the research doesn’t make it to the book, the confidence and understanding of the subject can be seen in a writer’s word choice.
Making Sebastian an antique dealer specializing in Victorian America was the best excuse ever for me to learn more about one of my favorite time periods. I hope that readers find it as interesting as I do!
Carole: So the research takes you in a lot of different directions that aren’t confined to this particular genre. Do you write in different genres?
C.S.: I write a few. Mostly mysteries, but occasionally I’ll shake things up with contemporary romance or paranormal. Paranormal is broad I know, but within that umbrella I’ve done shifters (if anyone knows my penguins), urban fantasy, and Steampunk.
Carole: Do you have a favorite?
C.S.: I love mystery. Writing and reading it—it’s by far the biggest genre on my bookshelf! But I do have a special adoration for Steampunk. I’ve been writing it long before mystery. The aesthetics of Steampunk are beautiful, and mix that with an alternate historical timeline and a bit of magic? Be still my heart!
Carole: And finally, the question all readers want an answer to: what projects are you working on now and what is coming next from you?
C.S.: The Mystery of the Curiosities (Snow & Winter Book 2) is currently in edits! It is scheduled for release by DSP Publications in February, 2017. I’m extremely excited about Sebastian and Calvin’s second adventure!
Also in edits in a Steampunk short! Gunner the Deadly will be part of the ‘Once Upon a Time in the Weird West’ anthology, coming out with Dreamspinner Press around the end of 2016. The last, soon-to-start edit (I know, it’s been busy at Chez Poe) is a contemporary romance novella for Dreamspinner’s ‘States of Love’ line. Joy will be out in spring of 2017.
And what am I writing now? A new standalone mystery for DSP Publications—Southernmost Murder. It’s due soon, so I should get crackin’ on that.
Carole: Yes, you should, C.S.! That’s a lot to look forward to, and thanks so much for taking a moment out of a very full schedule to come chat with us.
And thank you, Awesome Readers, for spending a little time with us today. Buy links are below, but first, C.S. has brought us a sneak peek, so please enjoy!
SOMETHING WAS rotten.
I didn’t mean in a figurative sense. I meant something smelled like it was decaying.
“Shit,” I muttered. I stood at the door of my antique shop, hand to my nose.
Tupperware. It had to be an old lunch.
It was a wintry, miserable Tuesday in New York City, two weeks’ shy of Christmas. The snow was coming down heavily at seven in the morning, blanketing the city and producing an eerie, muted effect. I had shown up early to my business, Snow’s Antique Emporium, in downtown Manhattan, with the intention of going through some newly acquired inventory. Instead, I was dripping melted snow onto the welcome mat and trying to pinpoint that god-awful stench.
I quickly hung up my jacket and hat and changed out of my boots into an old pair of worn loafers beside the door. I ran my fingers through my unruly hair and smoothed the front of my sweater while walking down the tiny, crowded aisles. I stopped to turn on old lamps as I followed the smell. The glow of the lights was subdued, creating a cavernous look for the shop.
At the counter that had an old brass register on it, I took the step up onto the elevated floor, scanning the shop. It smelled even worse here. I reached into my sweater pocket and replaced my sunglasses with black-framed reading glasses. Turning on the bank lamp, I winced and looked away from the light.
I stared at the door standing ajar to my right. It was a tiny little closet that served as an office, with a computer and chair and mini fridge all tucked away for my use.
Does forgotten Thai food smell like death after two days?
I walked in, opened the fridge, and hesitantly sniffed a few cartons. Okay, I needed to do some serious cleaning, but what seemed like a half-eaten burrito was not the source of the odor.
I walked back to the register, groaning loudly as I looked around. Something had to have died—a rat, perhaps? I cringed at the thought of finding a New York City rodent in my shop, but I crouched down and started shoving aside bags and boxes used at checkout while I looked.
The front door opened, the bell chiming overhead. “Good morn—what’s that smell?” my assistant, Max, called. “Sebastian?”
“Over here,” I grumbled.
Max Ridley was a sweet guy, a recent college grad with an art degree he realized rather too quickly wasn’t going to pay his rent. He was smart and knew his history. I’d hired him the same day he’d come in to fill out an application. Max was tall and broad-shouldered—a handsome young man who was maybe bisexual or maybe just out to experience it all. I’d heard enough stories over morning coffee, reading mail, and pricing antiques to know Max’s preference seemed to be mostly anyone.
Call me old-fashioned, but I’m a one-man sort of guy.
“God, the weather sucks today. Do you think it’ll be busy?” Max asked as he strolled through the shop.
“Usually is,” I said, looking up over the counter.
“What did you leave sitting out?”
“Nothing. I think a rat died or something.”
“Can I turn on more lights? It’ll be easier to find.”
“I already have a headache,” I said absently. I crouched back down to finish moving out the supplies from under the counter.
I was born with achromatopsia, which means I can’t see color. We have two types of light receptor cells in our eyes, cones and rods. Cones see color in bright light, rods see black and white in low light. My cones don’t work. At all. The world to me exists only in varying shades of gray, and I have a difficult time seeing in places with bright lights because the rods aren’t meant for daylight purposes. Usually I wear sunglasses or my special red-tinted contacts as an extra layer of protection….
“I forgot my contacts. And the snow was too bright.”
“Even for shades?”
“Yes. Damn, where is that smell coming from?” I asked while standing.
Max motioned to the register. “Smells the worst right here.”
“Yeah.” I walked back to the steps and promptly fell forward when the creaky floorboard underfoot skidded sideways.
Max lunged out and grabbed me before I could plant my face on the floor. He held me tight, my face smooshed against his armpit. “Did you have another fight with Neil last night?”
“Why?” I asked as I pulled myself free from his hold.
“You’ve got some bad mojo following you around this morning.”
“It wasn’t a fight. It was—you know, I’m not talking about it while the smell of rot continues to permeate my shop.” I turned back to the step and bent to examine the floorboard that had become free.
Bad idea. The stench of decay filled my nostrils, and I fought back the urge to gag.
“I think you found it,” Max muttered, looking down over my shoulder. “I’ll get a bag.”
I nodded silently, holding my nose while I looked into the opening under the floor. It—the thing—wasn’t dark, like a dead rat. It didn’t appear to have fur, but I’d be lying if I said I had great vision when it came to close-up details.
“Max? Come here.”
“What?” His voice came from the office before he joined me with a garbage bag.
“Look in there.”
“Oh come on. You don’t pay me enough for that.”
“No, I mean, I don’t think that’s a rat.”
Max got down on one knee and glanced inside before quickly pulling back. “What the hell!”
I stared at the floor. “Tear up the planks! Here, here!—It is the beating of his hideous heart!”
“What is that?”
“Poe,” I replied.
“God, you’re so weird, Seb,” Max muttered.
“What else am I supposed to say?” I asked, pointing at the rotting flesh. “It’s a heart.”
“Who did you kill?”
“I’ll call the cops.”
Author Bio: C.S. Poe is an author of gay mystery, romance, and paranormal books. She is a reluctant mover and has called many places home in her lifetime. C.S. has lived in New York City, Key West, and Ibaraki, Japan, to name a few. She misses the cleanliness, convenience, and limited edition gachapon of Japan, but she was never very good at riding bikes to get around.
She has an affinity for all things cute and colorful, and a major weakness for toys. C.S. is an avid fan of coffee, reading, and cats. She’s rescued three cats, including one found in a drain pipe in Japan who flew back to the States with her. Zak, Milo, and Kasper do their best on a daily basis to sidetrack her from work.
Please join us next time on Genre Talk when Elizabeth Noble will finally—finally!—make author August (Gus) Li OMG sit still for five seconds to tell us about his upcoming Fantasy release Calling and Cull, Book Five of the Blessed Epoch series, and available for preorder now!
For Elizabeth Noble and me, that’s it for this week, and thanks for reading. See you next time!