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A killer heat wave settles over Seagull Lane…Summer’s sizzling in Vista Beach, the home of computer programmer and tole-painting enthusiast Aurora (Rory) Anderson. The abnormally high temperatures are hard on everyone in the quiet Los Angeles county beach community, especially the city’s homeless population. Residents are doing everything they can to stay cool, including leaving windows open to catch the faintest breeze. Not the best idea when a string of burglaries is plaguing nearby towns.
<Still, Rory doesn’t expect to find her neighbor’s body just a few doors down. When suspicion falls on a friend and fellow painter, Rory must discover the truth before the police paint the wrong picture and send her friend away permanently.
Q: Sybil, thanks for stopping by Island Confidential! Can you tell us a little bit about your protagonist?
SJ: Aurora (Rory) Anderson is in her late twenties, a freelance computer programmer and tole/decorative painting enthusiast. She was adopted at age 2 when her birth parents (a couple of serial arsonists) died in a fire of their own making. She didn’t learn this until right before the first book in the series, FATAL BRUSHSTROKE, so that’s something she’s dealing with. And she now lives in the town where her birth parents went on their arson spree.
Q: How much of you is in Rory?
SJ: I think all of my characters have a bit of me in them, some more than others. Rory and I have quite a bit in common. I was in software development for 20 years; she’s a freelance programmer. We both share a love of tole/decorative painting and we’re both a bit klutzy. I would really like her. She’s caring and compassionate and will stick up for her friends and family. That doesn’t mean she doesn’t have faults, but she’s overall a likeable person to me.
Q: This is the third Aurora Anderson mystery. Do your characters change and evolve throughout consecutive books in the series?
SJ: Rory, in particular, is slowly changing as she deals with what her birth parents did when she was little. Her adoptive parents, Arika and Swan Anderson, took her away from Vista Beach when she was small so she wouldn’t have to grow up with the stigma of what her birth parents had done. But they moved back a couple years ago and there’s still some antagonism around town, though it is cooling off as people get to know her. The town’s chief of police, Redmond Marshall, is also changing. His wife and young daughter were killed in one of the arson fires years ago. It’s hard for him to trust Rory, especially since she’s the spitting image of her birth mother, but he’s learning.
Q: Have you ever thought of killing someone that you know in real life–on the pages of a murder mystery, I mean?
SJ: All the time! I suppose I shouldn’t admit that. I’d never intentionally hurt anyone in real life, of course, but killing someone on the page… If someone annoys you, it’s rather cathartic. But, I would never use that person’s real name. Who I’m killing off in a story is between me and the book.
Q: How realistic is your setting? Do you take liberties, or are you true to life?
SJ: My books take place in Vista Beach, a fictional Los Angeles county beach town that I’ve modeled after the beach cities in the area in which I live. I try to take elements that are peculiar to cities on the coast. e.g. in A PALETTE FOR MURDER there’s a chalk art festival which is loosely based on the chalk art festival that is held every year in Redondo Beach.
Q: When the movie or TV series is made, who plays the major parts?
SJ: This is a really tough question. Some authors have particular actors in mind when they write their characters, but that’s not me. I do have a vision of what each one would look like, though.
Rory (main character) – Whoever plays Rory needs to be tall since Rory is 6 feet. I think I’ll go with Mandy Moore who is in “This is Us”. She exudes a girl next door vibe, which is how I see Rory.
Liz (Rory’s BFF/sidekick) – Kimiko Glenn best known for “Orange is the New Black”. She shares a common heritage with Liz. I saw an interview with her about “Waitress,” the musical she’s in. I think she’d make a good Liz.
Detective Green – Daniel Gillies who plays Elijah on “The Originals”.
Q: What’s the worst and best advice you’ve heard or received as an author?
SJ: The best: Just write! Forget about those doubts and fears swirling around in your head. Forget about what everyone else is doing. Tame those inner demons and write, write, write! The worst: Anything that is an absolute, that says that every writer must do this or that. Every writer is different. We’re all on our own journeys. What’s good advice for one person may not be good advice for another.
About The Author –
Sybil Johnson’s love affair with reading began in kindergarten with “The Three Little Pigs.” Visits to the library introduced her to Encyclopedia Brown, Mrs. Piggle-Wiggle and a host of other characters. Fast forward to college where she continued reading while studying Computer Science. After a rewarding career in the computer industry, Sybil decided to try her hand at writing mysteries. Her short fiction has appeared in Mysterical-E and Spinetingler Magazine, among others. Originally from the Pacific Northwest, she now lives in Southern California where she enjoys tole painting, studying ancient languages and spending time with friends and family.
Facebook Author page: www.facebook.com/sybiljohnsonauthor
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