Wednesday, March 27, 2013

Interview: Terry Ambrose

Now let's hear a little more about Terry Ambrose's new book, License to Lie

 1.    What was your inspiration for this book?
I’ve always been fascinated by human behavior and the differences in human behavior. Why do men look at things differently then women? Why does a criminal view the law as an impediment and an officer view it as a tool? After finishing my Hawaiian mystery, which was light and funny, I wanted to again tackle something more serious. The age-old battle between the sexes and struggle between right and wrong seemed like the perfect choice. It ultimately led me to write LICENSE TO LIE, which has the tag line, “Never trust a soul…even your own.”
 2.    Would you classify your writing as plot driven of character driven?
My writing is primarily driven by the characters. In LICENSE TO LIE, one of the main characters, a con artist, is about to close her last deal when her father disappears. Worried that her father figured out her latest con, she wants to find him fast. She’s driven partly by love and partly by guilt because she fears she’s driven him away. When a ransom note arrives, she’s forced to choose between running away with $5 million and giving up everything she’s worked for to save her father.
For me, the character of Roxy Tanner drives her part of the story. If Roxy saw life differently, she’d make other choices. As it is, she’s bound by her love and her greed. The question is, which will win out? Her counterpart, Skip Cosgrove, is a criminologist who, after he agrees to help Roxy find her missing father, soon realizes that he’s over his head and must make his own choices, which may be in conflict with Roxy’s. As a result, we wind up with two characters that are trying to work together, but who have opposing views on life and opposing goals. Those characters generate a plot with twists at every turn.
 3.    Can you tell us a little about your main character?
As I mentioned, there are two and they share equal billing. LICENSE TO LIE is told in chapters that alternate between the two characters. Roxy is the con artist. She’s greed, conniving, and see’s people as a tool to get what she wants. But, she’s also highly vulnerable and her life of crime was actually caused by one defining incident in her childhood. She’s the bad girl who’d like to be good, but has no clue as to how to accomplish that.
Skip Cosgrove is a straight-laced criminologist who likes to help people. Unlike Roxy, he sees the law as a way to help society maintain order. Skip, however, also has a bad boy side, and it’s one that his growing attraction to Roxy fosters.
 4.    Which of your supporting characters was the most challenging to write?
Barry Finkledorf, who calls himself Baldorf, may have been my most challenging character in LICENSE TO LIE. He’s got a 162 IQ, writes video games, and has computer skills any hacker would envy. He also likes to switch up his dialog, going from street slang to intellectualism at the drop of a hat. Part of the challenge in writing Baldorf is that he triggers many of the funny moments in the book. And as we all know, writing humor can be murder. If the joke fails, the writer dies a slow and painful death.

 5.    Without giving away too much, tell us a little about the main conflict in this book.
LICENSE TO LIE is all about trust. The common axiom is that trust must be earned. But, what if you have no time to develop that relationship? So, for Skip and Roxy, the question becomes, with $5 million and their lives on the line, can these two learn to trust each other—or themselves?

 6.    Why did you choose this genre?
I enjoy reading mysteries and suspense

 7.    What do you hope readers take away from this book?
I’m hoping that, other than the feeling that they’ve read a great book, readers go away pondering the question of who should they trust? The flip side of that question is who should they not trust? In today’s society, there are far too many scammers out to steal from others. I write about scams and cons to help raise that awareness.

 8.    Who are your favorite authors?
T. Jefferson Parker is one of my favorites. I fell in love with his character of Allison Murieta in “L.A. Outlaws.” The funny thing is, I didn’t read that book until after LICENSE TO LIE was in print. I also enjoyed Hank Phillippi Ryan’s “The Other Woman” because it was filled with character angst as well as the twists and turns that those characters brought on themselves. Sue Grafton has been a favorite of mine for years because she created such a great character with Kinsey Millhone.

 9.    Do you have any interesting rituals or habits when you write?
I’m finding that I do better when I can get away from home to write. At home, there are so many distractions. By going elsewhere, I don’t have a phone or other distractions and will leave my email program turned off. Depending upon what type of scene I need to write, I may want to listen to different types of music. For instance, when I’m writing about Hawaii, I have a good collection of Hawaiian music. And if I need to write about obsession, there’s no one better than Melissa Etheridge.

 10.  Can you tell us about any future projects?
I have two books completed, but both need heavy editing. The sequel to Photo Finish will take place on Kauai, and I hope to release it this summer. The sequel to License to Lie will, if all things go well, be out in the last quarter of this year. Beyond that, I have at least one more book in each series planned and I’m considering weaving in a book with Skip Cosgrove as the protagonist. My goal is to do something like Robert B. Parker did when he tied together his Spenser, Jesse Stone, and Sunny Randell novels.
License to Lie is available now from Amazon and Oak Tree Press

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