I'm pleased to bring you another new-to-me author, V.S. Kemanis. A charming women and an author that lives her subject matter-legal, and her passion-writing.
Welcome to An Indie Adventure, V. Tell us, what inspired you to write your book Love and Crime: Stories?
Each story in this collection had a unique source of inspiration. The stories first reveal themselves as small ideas that remain dormant for months or even years in the back of my mind. For example, the opening story, “Rosemary and Reuben,” features characters who are challenged emotionally and physically by their heightened senses of smell and taste. That story was inspired by my own extreme sensitivity to smell and a question: how might two people with sensory challenges interact? The idea developed slowly, acquiring scenes and characters until I woke up one day and said, “I’m ready to write this one!”
If you were not a writer, what vocation would you pursue?
Besides fiction writing (a real passion!), I’m fortunate to have many vocations that are all still part of my life in varying degrees. I’m the mother of two amazing daughters, now young adults. I’ve taught, performed, and choreographed ballet and contemporary dance, and even owned a dancewear shop! But the mainstay has been the law. My experience in criminal law as an assistant district attorney inspired my legal mystery novels, Thursday’s List, Homicide Chart, and Forsaken Oath.
Do you prefer to read in the same genre you write in, or do you avoid reading that genre? Why?
I read many kinds of fiction, but my favorites include the genres I write: literary (both novels and short stories), and legal thrillers. Much of my writing involves psychological suspense, and this is the kind of story that attracts me. Besides the pure enjoyment of becoming fully immersed in a story, I also pay attention to the techniques other writers use to achieve mood and feeling.
How do you create internal and external conflict in your characters? I find conflict often the hardest to create when I start planning a book.
In my short stories, each protagonist is battling his or her own demon, whether it’s a subtle internal force or an external event. Self-delusion and moral dilemma are some of my favorite themes. To create suspense, I don’t give the problem away immediately. It creeps up on the reader, just as it creeps up on the protagonist, who isn’t always self-aware. For example, in the story “Journal Entry, Franklin DeWitt,” an aging ballet critic on his death bed comes to terms with a decades-old source of guilt, remembering events that slowly lead to his final admission of betrayal. In the novel format, the conflicts in my legal thrillers tend to be more external, and they’re very easy for me to find. Courtrooms and lawsuits and criminal trials are rife with conflict!
If you could live during any era of history, which one would you choose?
I’m fascinated by so many different eras! It’s enthralling to let the imagination go back in time. But, bottom line, I’m happy to be living now. Change occurs so quickly, both socially and technologically, that our lives might seem to span several eras! Most of all, I’m grateful to be living in a time and a society in which women have the freedom to do and to be whatever they want.
Give us a brief summary of Love and Crime: Stories:
Loves big and small, crimes forgiven or avenged. These are the themes that drive the eleven diverse stories in this new collection of psychological suspense.
Meet the husband and wife team Rosemary and Reuben, master chefs known to sprinkle a dash of magic into every dish. Lucille Steadman, a dazed retiree who can’t explain why she’s left her husband, only to discover, too late, the meaning of love and commitment in the most surprising place. Franklin DeWitt, an esteemed ballet critic who witnesses—or abets?—a bizarre criminal plot to topple a beautiful Soviet ballerina. Rosalyn Bleinstorter, a washed-up defense attorney whose stubborn belief in her own street savvy leads her unwittingly into a romantic and criminal association with an underworld figure.
These are just a few of the colorful characters you’ll get to know in these pages, where all is fair in love and crime. While the endings to these tales are not always sweet or predictable, and self-deception is rarely rewarded, the lessons come down hard and are well learned.
Love and Crime: Stories has received a Starred Review from BlueInk Reviews and a Five-Star rating from Foreword Reviews
Available May 1 in paperback and ebook:
V. S. Kemanis grew up in the East Bay Area of California in a family with six amazing siblings and parents passionate about politics, social issues, theater and music. Mealtimes were often raucous, stimulating, intellectual and fun gatherings in a household full of family and interesting guests, musicians, actors, artists, professors and university students.
Ms. Kemanis holds a B.A. in sociology from the University of California at Berkeley, and a J.D. from the University of Colorado, School of Law, at Boulder. In her legal career, she has been a criminal prosecutor of street crime and organized crime for county and state agencies, argued criminal appeals for the prosecution and defense, conducted complex civil litigation, and worked as a court attorney for state appellate courts.
She is also an accomplished dancer of classical ballet, modern jazz and contemporary styles and has performed, taught and choreographed in California, Colorado and New York.
Dozens of short stories by Ms. Kemanis have been published in noted literary journals and award-winning collections. Her three novels in the Dana Hargrove legal mystery series draw on her personal experience in criminal law, juggling the needs of family with a high-powered legal career. Ms. Kemanis is a member of the Mystery Writers of America.