THURSDAY, November 15, 2007

She Did It Again!

Kris Nelscott (Rusch) is our guest speaker at Bloody Thursday when she will receive her second Spotted Owl Award for the Smokey Dalton mystery Days of Rage. She is the second Pacific Northwest author to be awarded a second Spotted Owl award, a distinction she shares with Seattle author Lowen Clausen. Kris won her first Spotted Owl in 2005 for Stone Cribs, also featuring Smokey Dalton.

Days of Rage is the fifth in the series set in Chicago shortly after 1968 Democratic convention when there were anti-Viet Nam war demonstrations. The trial of the Chicago Eight has inflamed the city and Smokey and his ward Jimmy find their lives threatened by the consequences of the turbulence. The first Smokey Dalton mystery, A Dangerous Road, won the 2001 Edgar for best novel.

Kris is a prolific author who writes science fiction as Kristine Kathryn Rusch. She writes romance under the name of Kristine Grayson in addition to her mystery novels and short stories under Kris Nelscott. She is a frequent contributor to the Ellery Queen Mystery Magazine.

She and her author husband, Dean Wesley Smith, live on the Oregon coast.

Mike Doogan’s novel Lost Angel is the first Spotted Owl award for a debut novel. Set in a small remote Alaska town, former police officer Nik Kane is hired by a religious sect to find the missing granddaughter of their leader. His search for the teenager leads to clashes with members of the community and he becomes involved in the investigation of a local gold mine payroll robbery. Mike’s new mystery, Capitol Offense also features Nik Kane.

Both Days of Rage and Lost Angel were short listed for prestigious Shamus awards. Kris’s book was nominated for Best P.I. novel and Mike’s for Best First P.I. novel. Mike planned to attend our Bloody Thursday meeting to accept his award in person. However, he is also an Alaskan legislator and was called into a special session at this time. Mike received his Spotted Owl award at the Anchorage Bouchercon in September. The plaque was presented by our own Bill Cameron.

Be sure to join us at our Spotted Owl award event to congratulate Kris in person. The meeting will be held in the auditorium of Good Samaritan Medical Center, 1040 NW 22nd Avenue (corner of NW 22nd and Marshall). The evening will begin with a reception at 7:00 pm and the program at 7:30. The meeting is free and open to the public. Free parking is available in the parking structure adjacent to the auditorium. The Portland Streetcar and Tri Met run on nearby routes.

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Be sure to put the upcoming Bloody Thursday events on your calendar:

January 24, 2008 – Dr. Frank Colistro. Dr. Colistro is a forensic psychologist who assists law enforcement agencies with profiling serial criminals. He also advises the State Parole Board in assessing inmates’ recidivism probability.

March 27, 2008 – A Panel of Debut Authors. Five newly published authors will discuss the process of getting their books published, the activities to achieve success for their books. Authors on the panel include Bill Cameron, Gregg Olsen, Capt. Bob Napier, Doc Macomber and Ashna Graves.

May 22, 2008 – Steven Saylor. Best-selling author, Steven Saylor will discuss his work and his new Gordianus novel, The Triumph of Caesar.

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Many thanks to all the new and renewing members for the 2007-2008 season. We have a truly exciting series of speakers coming to share their stories with us. If you have not yet paid your membership dues for 2007-2008, we urge you to do so. Friends of Mystery is a 501C(3) nonprofit organization. Dues and additional donations are deductible to the full extent of the law. Members also receive a discount on purchases at Murder By the Book.

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John Walsdorf conducted this e-interview with Hawaiian author Chip Hughes for our newsletter.

JW: Q1) Tell us a little about who you are and your writing background:

CH: A native Californian who learned to surf in the 1960s, I landed a teaching job in the islands in 1981 after earning a Ph.D. at Indiana University. During the past twenty-six years I have taught courses at the University of Hawaii in American literature, writing, and popular fiction, especially the mystery. I have also done some academic writing, including two books on John Steinbeck and articles, reviews, etc.

But before long I realized that I was more interested in writing my own fiction than in writing about the fiction of others. In 1987 I started my first novel, THE BIG ALOHA, and spent several years laboring on it. In 1992 I began my second, ICE CREAM. Finally in 1995 I started MURDER ON MOLOKA’I, which launched the Surfing Detective mystery series. Before MOLOKA’I was published in 2004 I was well underway on the next two books in the series, WIPEOUT! (published in 2007) and KULA (which I hope will appear by 2008). The fourth book, BARKING SANDS, is presently in rough plot outline, and the fifth, MURDER AT VOLCANO HOUSE, and the sixth, THE MAUI MASSEUSE, are in the early development stage.

I am an active member of the Private Eye Writers of America. I have been happily together with my wife Charlene (my muse and in-house editor) for twenty-five years now. We have a grown son and two beautiful but spoiled retrievers. I still surf when time allows (old-guy longboarder), usually in small stuff at our neighborhood break in Lanikai, in Windward O’ahu.

JW: Q2) What types of research do you do for your books?

CH: The most fun research I do is traveling to various places in the islands where the mysteries are set. For WIPEOUT! I actually paddled out at Waimea Bay and tried my hand at big-wave riding. I didn’t catch a thing except a serious case of the trembles. I also attended a Sunday mass at the Mission of Saints Peter and Paul at Waimea Bay that is at the spiritual center of the book and of the big-wave riding universe. And I visited the islands of Lana’l and Maui where some scenes in the book take place. I’ve already begun research for the fourth book, BARKING SANDS, with a trip to Kaua’i.

I also do more traditional text-based research. One of my most important sources is our local newspapers, the Advertiser and Star Bulletin. I also try to immerse myself (through books, electronic databases, etc.) in the central subjects and issues of each mystery. For MURDER ON MOLOKA’I, that meant learning about the leper colony at Kalaupapa. For WIPEOUT!, the history of big-wave riding. For KULA, pet theft. Etc.

JW: Q3) Your detective Kai Cooke, is an intriguing character, far from the stereotype of a surfer, how did he evolve?

CH: I had a student once who had the same first name, stature, and brown hair and eyes as my fictional detective, Kai Cooke. My student was an extremely nice fellow – bright, polite, sensitive, attractive. Kai originally began in my mind as a sailor, but then it became clear to me that he could be a surfer, because surfing in Hawai’I’s gift to the world. It made sense, then, that a mystery series attempting to capture the local flavor of Hawaii would have a surfer-P.I.

As far as the “Hey, Dude!” surfing stereotype, I know quite a few surfers and none of them fits this stereotype. I think it must be a shopping mall-California image of a surfing perpetuated by the media to sell things. Many of my surfing buddies have Ph.D.s, one surfer I know is a building contractor, another a computer consultant to big corporations. It’s a diverse group of talented and successful people. Of course, my cohort is older than average.

JW: Q4) Your use of the Hawaiian islands makes them almost like another character in the book, how conscious is that on your part?

CH: My aim is to write books that accurately reflect the real people and places of the Hawaiian islands. I’m not sure how successful I am at this, but too many mysteries set in the islands are written by folks not from here who pop in for a week or two, do some sketchy research, and then pump out a book with characters and locales that few of us who actually live here recognize. “Write what you know,” is not bad advice.

So, yes, I am very conscious that Hawai’I becomes kind of a central ongoing character in the series. And the fact that I’ve lived here for a quarter century doesn’t hurt. It would have been better if I were born here, attended high school here, and learned to speak island pidgin from childhood. But that didn’t happen. So I do the best I can.

JW: Q5) What can we expect next from “The Surfing Detective’?

CH: KULA, the third Surfing Detective mystery, should be coming soon. I hope in 2008. A broke Kai Cooke is reduced to searching for a missing pet, who happens to be a famous surfing dog. Kai hooks up with a former K9 cop turned pet detective and she teaches him the ropes. But as he digs into the disappearance of the beautiful golden retriever, dead bodies (human, not canine) start turning up and it appears that Kula’s sleazy master, a flamboyant gold dealer, is somehow connected to them.

JW: Thanks Chip. For more information on Chip Hughes and his books his fantastic website is at: (and his T-shirts are VERY cool as well!)

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