Author Spotlight: David Neilson and the Sophie Rathenau Vienna Mysteries

If he were to fail to meet her standards, she just might pull her gun on him—a gun she carries primed and loaded in case she needs it in a hurry. But David knows to follow her lead.

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Don’t ever let anyone tell you that a man can’t create a living, breathing, believable female character. I am continually astonished at the sensitivity with which David Neilson builds his main character’s thoughts, feelings, and actions. I think Sophie truly does live in his head, and she directs the stories he writes. If he were to fail to meet her standards, she just might pull her gun on him—a gun she carries primed and loaded in case she needs it in a hurry. But David knows to follow her lead.

In an online interview, he tells us that Sophie does, indeed, resonate in his head. “She knows she’s the star turn and she doesn’t tolerate rivals. I can catch her sometimes thinking whether she’s tough enough in one scene, or vulnerable enough, or self-righteous enough.… the best moments for me come when Sophie says or does something outrageous, for example, getting to get into a ball for free by pretending that a non-existent husband will pay, or trying to con a Jesuit rector into believing she’s a rich patroness.”

Who is this woman, you ask. “An investigator in Mozart’s Vienna, she’s tousle-headed, modest of bosom, large of hand, acid-tongued, and inclined to be self-righteous. Getting involved in the direst conspiracies of her day, she needs all her wits to come out in one piece.” That’s how David described her in an interview with Sue Seabury on her blog, The Technopeasant. Mozart’s Vienna in the 1770s hardly evokes a society in which a liberated woman might thrive as a private investigator. But Sophie manages to be the woman all women want to be.

The Prussian Dispatch and Lay Brothers, books one and two of the Sophie Rathenau Vienna Mysteries, bring you the adventures of this remarkable woman. In the first, Sophie is caught up in an international conspiracy when she is hired to locate a missing government dispatch sent from Prussia to Vienna. To complicate matters, she must keep a vengeful Chancellor at bay and deal with a past that threatens to engulf her. In the second, she’s managed to escape to Munich where intrigue comes in the form of a request from a friend who needs help finding a missing priest. In searching for him, she raises the ire of the increasingly corrupt Jesuit Order whose efforts to silence the priest turn deadly.

I promise you that if you love strong women characters and historical fiction at its finest, you will fall in love with Sophie Rathenau and the stories she drives David Neilson to tell. Visit Sophie’s website, which is a treasure trove of information about Vienna in the 1700’s, the politics, the people, the architecture, and the fashion.

Visit David’s Pinterest page, another place to see images of the people, places, and fashion of Sophie’s world. You can also view the trailers for each book:

The Prussian Dispatch

Lay Brothers

The third book, to be released soon, is Serene. In it we will find her protecting the rebellious Austrian Archduchess Isabella in Venice, a place Sophie had been warned never to return unless she is prepared to die. If something happens to the Archduchess and Sophie manages to escape Corona Mundt’s threat, the Austrian Chancellor will exact his revenge. It’s a lose-lose situation. Having had a preview of this third book, I’m eager for it to be published.

An Interview with Cheryl Holloway

I recently had a lovely interview with author and book blogger, Cheryl Holloway. You can read it here. Cheryl’s blog is her way to “pay it forward” on behalf of other authors. She says, “To Pay-It-Forward means that we must serve others in order to lift up ourselves,”  and she does just that.

It was great fun talking about all three books in the Clay Series. Book 3, The Clay Sustains, is due for release on September 29, 2017. Amazon pre-sales will begin on September 1.

In her interview, she asked which book was the hardest to write. My answer? It was the upcoming third book, The Clay Sustains, because I had to do a certain amount of world-building, since it was a prehistoric culture and society I was describing. Many of the spiritual and cultural beliefs of the characters were borrowed from the Pascua Yaqui Tribe’s ancestral people, the Yoeme, as well as from the Tohono O’odham Indians, who believe they are direct descendants of the Hohokam. I felt an obligation to treat these beliefs and practices with the utmost respect, while at the same time creating a society that readers should not assume to be factual representations of either culture or tribe. And, because Yoeme spirituality is somewhat complex, I had to work hard to make it accessible to my readers.

Striking a balance between creating a fictional world and honoring the real culture that serves, to some extent, as a model is something that I had to keep in mind with every word, sentence, paragraph, and chapter. I can only hope I succeeded.

She asked a wonderful series of thought-provoking questions that gave me an opportunity to explore my writing experience in depth.

Mosey on over to Cheryl’s blog and catch up with me and my author’s journey.

By the way, I will have a repeat interview with Pat Rullo on Speak Up Talk Radio on Tuesday, September 22. It’s a follow-up to last year’s interview in which I talked about writing the first two books in the Clay Series. Now I get to talk about book 3, The Clay Sustains.

5 Questions Book Bloggers/Reviewers Should Answer on Their Websites

There is a lot to love about being an author, but there are a number of frustrations that have nothing to do with actually writing. It’s the marketing and promotion that get to me. Currently, on the top of my list is the challenge of finding reviewers or book bloggers from whom I can request a review.

Navigating book reviewer/blogger sites

I’ve spent hours going through website after website of reviewers from Amazon’s Top Reviewers using Amazon’s website as well as this site, which makes it a little easier to find and check the reviewer out. Or you can go to Twitter and do a search for “book reviewers” or “book bloggers,” adding your genre as part of the search terms. No matter where you go to find potential reviewers, you will follow the same procedure once you’ve found a website link for them. Continue reading “5 Questions Book Bloggers/Reviewers Should Answer on Their Websites”