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Saturday, February 18, 2012

Spotlight Saturday: Author Interview and Giveaway with Lawrence Kelter, author of Kiss of the Devil's Breath and The Brain Vault

Hi, everyone!

Welcome to another edition of Spotlight Saturday at Darlene's Book Nook, where we feature authors and their books!

We will be joined today by Lawrence Kelter.

About Lawrence:

Lawrence Kelter is the bestselling author of the Stephanie Chalice Mystery Series. A resident New Yorker, born and raised in Brooklyn and residing on Long Island. He often uses Manhattan and Long Island as backdrops for his stories. He is the author of three novels featuring street savvy NYPD detective, Stephanie Chalice: Don't Close Your Eyes, Ransom Beach, and most recently, The Brain Vault. Kiss of the Devil's Breath, the first in a new hard-boiled mystery series, featuring L.A. Private Detective Frank Mango has just been released. His novels are humorous and are known for their twist endings. Nelson DeMille said, "Lawrence Kelter is an exciting new novelist who reminds me of an early Robert Ludlum." 

Website  | Blog  | Goodreads  | Twitter | Facebook

Author Interview:

Welcome to Darlene's Book Nook, Lawrence! Please tell us a little about yourself.

Writing is my third (and hopefully final) career. I'm currently in the banking industry and before that I spent many years in the world of fashion. I worked for Izod/LaCoste, so if you wore one of those alligator shirts, chances are that I had something to do with it. By the way, they're crocodiles, not alligators. The name came from Jean RenĂ© Lacoste, who was called "the crocodile" by his fans because of his tenacity on the tennis court. I enjoyed that time very much. It afforded me the opportunity to travel extensively throughout the Far East. In doing so, I learned a great deal about Asian customs. It's proven very helpful in the writing of my political thrillers (I also developed an insatiable appetite for sushi and red bean ice cream). 

Early on in my writing career, I got a real boost from bestselling novelist Nelson DeMille, who read BY EXECUTIVE ORDER and actually edited  a portion of the manuscript. He sent the manuscript back to me with a note that read, “Your work needs editing, kid, but that’s a hell of a lot better than not being able to write. Keep it up.” For anyone interested, BY EXECUTIVE ORDER will be available for Kindle and NOOK later this year.

I was also part of a tightly-knit writer’s workshop led by soap opera legend, Ann Loring (LOVE OF LIFE 1956-1970). She taught me the art of screenwriting and the first screenplay I wrote under her watchful eye finished prominently in the Nicholl’s Fellowship Program, which is run by AMPAS, The Academy of Motion Pictures Arts and Sciences.

In high school I was voted the student least likely to be found in a library (okay, I made that one up). 

Do you have a specific writing style? Do you write an outline, or do you write more “by-the-seat-of-your-pants”? 

I'd like to say that I write organically, but that would be inaccurate. I don't know that there are many other writers that follow the same process that I do. There's usually a catharsis at which time I spew out the first fifty pages or so. Then I come up for air and ask, "What have I got here?" If I'm satisfied that I have a solid foundation for a full book, I begin outlining the rest of the story. 

Do you discipline yourself to write a certain number of words daily? Or do you ever have dry periods where you do not write?

I still have a day job and although I'd like to write every day, it's just not possible. When I have the time, I like to write about ten pages a day. If I push for more productivity than that I usually find that the additional pages are not creative and they get edited out. The good news in all this is that I will probably start writing full time in 2012, a prospect that makes me very very happy.

Are there any authors that influence your writing?

Needless to say, I’m a huge fan of Nelson DeMille. In fact it was his John Corey character who strongly influenced the personality of my protagonist, Stephanie Chalice. Both Corey and Chalice are cut from the same bolt of cloth; they are both shrewd law enforcement agents. Both have a sharp tongue and an incessant sense of humor. BookWire review wrote about her, “Chalice’s acerbic repartee is like an arsenal of nuclear missiles.”

I’m also a huge fan of Thomas Harris and his perfect modern age monster, Hannibal Lecter. I can’t tell you how many times I’ve read SILENCE OF THE LAMBS and RED DRAGON. I never tire of the psychological jousting between Lecter and Starling. Harris is the father of forensic fiction and rarely gets credit for his authentic portrayals of police work. 

Can you tell us about your current or upcoming writing projects?

I’ve published three books in the Stephanie Chalice Mystery Series. DON’T CLOSE YOUR EYES, RANSOM BEACH, and THE BRAIN VAULT. Thank God, all three have been Amazon Top 10 Best Sellers in their genres, Mysteries/Police Procedurals and Mysteries/Women Sleuths. Stephanie is a savvy, wisecracking NYPD detective with a nose for crime and lots of psychological baggage. She experiences vivid nightmares which often lend insights into her cases. She's had a secret romance going with her partner, Gus Lido and though she is completely loyal to Gus, she also has the hots for Nigel Twain, a dark, brooding, and twisted psychiatrist who consults with her on her investigations.

Here's a little bit about her current case in THE BRAIN VAULT: Detective Chalice is called into action when an unconscious man is found in Central Park. Barely alive, John Doe is clad only in a torn bed sheet and has sustained a life threatening wound. His body is covered in scars, essentially a tapestry chronicling his history as a torture victim. Stranger still, a human skull lies just inches away. Chalice has just two leads in this case, a skull that has been sterilized and found to be evidence free and a comatose witness to a murder—tough odds, even for NYPD’s best and brightest.

If you're following the real life Gilgo Beach murder investigation, you'll spot similarities in THE BRAIN VAULT that are absolutely eerie.

I just released KISS OF THE DEVIL'S BREATH, the first book in a new series featuring a Los Angeles PI named Frank Mango. That's right, I said Mango. Please stop giggling. Frank is very different than Chalice. (By the way, Stephanie is of Italian descent and her name is pronounced Cha-lee-see.) If she's Beauty, Mango is somewhat The Beast, fat and wrinkled-he's no matinee idol for sure. Where Chalice is clever, Mango is determined. She is savvy and Frank is more of a hunch-following bulldog. Chalice fires quick barbs and Mango's about as subtle as a bazooka. He's willfully obnoxious and very funny, side-splitting funny, at least that's the feedback so far.

Lastly, I love writing crime but the world is going to see my literary side this year with two books that are completely different than anything I've released before. They're entitled SEASON OF FAITH and SAVING CERVANTES. I know that we can only cover so much ground in one interview. I'm hoping the readers will follow me as I expand beyond the crime fiction genre and will take a peek at these two new offerings. Yes, I know, I'm prolific. I hope that will prove to be a good thing.

OK, I said last but I lied. CHALICE #4 will be out this summer also. Charge up your e-readers; I'm going to keep you busy.

Sorry, sorry... I almost forgot, I'm developing a YA psychological thriller entitled THE PALINDROME. That's it. No more. I promise. 

Do you have any specific last thoughts that you want to say to your readers?

Some readers seem to scrutinize Chalice because she's a woman being written by a man.  They say that I don't understand a woman's thoughts and feelings and that it comes across in the writing. On the other hand, many women, particularly women on the job and in the legal area tell me that I've nailed it and report, "OH-MY-GOD, it's as if you're writing about me." I feel that if you study any individual closely, you can represent them accurately in your writing whether that person is a man or a woman. In retrospect, I must admit that Chalice is a bit too much into her looks in book #1. While I could go back and rewrite the original 2005 text, I've chosen not to. I hope that my readers will follow Chalice and see that she's evolved in her subsequent books.

Chalice readers have been loyal to me and for that I am very grateful. Readers have many choices in crime fiction and I'm thrilled that I've been able to begin building an audience. I hope everyone will stick with me because I really love to write. It's the readers that make it all worthwhile. 

*Fun Facts*

Favourite music? When it comes to music, I am so firmly stuck in the late sixties and seventies it's not funny. I love listening to Cream, Led Zeppelin, and The Beatles. I don't believe that Clapton is God, but his music makes me feel like I am. I also listen to dance music when I work out: Lady Gaga, Katy Perry, and Rhianna. My daughter calls it my "Girly Mix."

Dog-lover or cat-lover? I'm crazy about dogs. I worship them. Okay, not in the way that David Berkowitz did but you know what I mean. My black Lab, Thunder passed away a couple of years ago and I still miss him. I get choked up just writing about him. KISS OF THE DEVIL'S BREATH is dedicated to him.

Vanilla ice cream or chocolate? Chocolate, chocolate, and more chocolate. Chocolate ice cream with hot fudge, chocolate chip cookies... WARM CHOCOLATE CHIP COOKIES... Oh my God I'm starving. 

If you could meet anyone in the world, alive or dead, who would it be and why? Okay, this is going to sound very superficial but I'd like to meet Sean Connery, write a screenplay with Woody Allen, and play guitar with Eric Clapton. Bond, God, and the world's most famous neurotic; what a set of values. 

Thanks so much for joining us today, Lawrence! It was a lot of fun getting to know you better!!


Two lucky winners will receive a paperback copy of Kiss of the Devil's Breath, which is Book #1 of the Frank Mango series.

But wait! There's more!!

Lawrence has also generously offered two paperback copies of The Brain Vault, which is Book #3 of the Stephanie Chalice Mystery series.

So, that is a total of 4 winners!!

This giveaway is limited to entrants from Canada/US at the author's request.


Here’s the scoop. 

Once there was Marlow, now there’s Mango, Frank Mango, a modern age detective doing his job in a very old fashioned way, an unlikely hero in an age of computers, gadgets, and gizmos. Two dead bodies have been discarded along the Sunset Strip, both aspiring actors, women of talent and ambition in a town renown for eating you up and spitting you out. Who really cares about these nobodies?

Mums the word—with the Academy Awards just days off, the powers that be are determined to sweep the dead under the red carpet at least until Oscar can take his gratuitous bow. There are, however, wrinkles in this finely crafted plan of deception, most notably the disappearance of yet another woman, a killer whose sniper rifle is trained on the fabled red carpet, and a throwback detective who doesn’t like to get pushed around.


A sterilized skull, a deranged forensics expert, a plunge into the deepest recesses of the criminal mind. In her most challenging case to date, Detective Chalice must turn to a madman to deliver a killer.

Chalice is called into action when an unconscious man is found in Central Park. Barely alive, John Doe is clad in a torn bed sheet and has sustained a life threatening wound. His body is covered in scars, a tapestry chronicling his life as a torture victim. Stranger still, a human skull lies just inches away.
In a case that closely resembles this summer's Gilgo Beach murder investigation, Chalice follows a trail bodies from New York City to The Long Island Pine Barrens and The Pilgrim State Psychiatric Hospital. Chalice has just two leads in this case, a skull that has been sterilized and found to be evidence free, and a comatose witness to a murder - tough odds, even for NYPD's best and brightest.

To enter the giveaway, please complete the Rafflecopter entry form below.

This giveaway is open to Canada/US entrants only, and it will close at 12:01 AM EST on Saturday, February 25th.

a Rafflecopter giveaway


  1. Both sound really good.

    Thanks for the chance at reading something from a new author!


  2. Kiss of the Devils Breath sounds like a good read.


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