Interview: Author Arlene Kay

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Former Federal Executive Arlene Kay traded the trappings of bureaucracy for a career as a mystery novelist. Her work is known for fiendishly clever plots with a dollop of romance and a heaping side of humor. Published novels include Intrusion; Die Laughing; and The Abacus Prize (Mainly Murder Press LLC); and the Boston Uncommons series- Swann Dive; Mantrap; Gilt Trip; & Swann Song (Bellbridge books). Ms.Kay holds graduate degrees in Political Science and Constitutional Law.

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Q—Describe the Swann Series in three words—

A—That’s easy. My tagline describes all four books perfectly: sultry, snarky suspense. (Emphasis on the suspense).

Q—Wow! What was your inspiration?

A—I’ve always loved literary sleuthing duos like Lord Peter Wimsey and Harriet Vane; Nick and Nora Charles; Tommy and Tuppence Beresford. They solved serious crimes but their relationship was filled with wit and banter. Naturally for contemporary readers I injected some heat into their personal life.

Q—Erotica??

A—Heavens no! I went to Catholic Schools. I believe in Hell. Let’s just say I believe in portraying sensuality without resorting to a list of body parts.

Q—Whew! Moving on, what makes your novels stand out?

A—Most people mention the strong authorial “voice” in my novels. I usually write in first person because I love the sense of connection it gives me to both the characters and my readers. Most writers grow to care about their fictional characters and I am no different. I feel quite protective of them.

Q—You’ve written four books in the Boston Uncommons Series. Will there be more?

A—Probably not. I deliberately ended book four (SWANN SONG) at a good point in my characters’ lives. Some series —even ones that I used to love—go on too long. I understand the pressures but in many ways it’s a disservice to beloved characters. I wanted Eja and Deming (my protagonists) to leave with their fictional heads held high.

 Q-How important is the plot in your novels?

A- Critical! This series is above all a mystery series and as both a writer and a reader that demands a logical, clever plot that only the most discerning reader can solve. Like many other readers I pride myself on finding the clues and identifying the murderer before or at least with the sleuth.

 Q—Tell us about Gilt Trip. It’s book #3 in the series, I believe.

A—Right! GILT TRIP entangles bride to be Eja Kane in a grisly murder, bullion fraud and a series of complicated relationships. That’s her punishment for joinng a Dojo and trying to please Deming Swann her devastatingly handsome fiancé. Sweat is vastly over-rated.

 Q—Any particular themes that run through this series?

A—Several. Loyalty, the importance of family, and the conflict that can arise between the law and justice. That particularly fascinates me. I also like to infuse cultural and ethnic diversity into my books—not to make a point but to accurately reflect the world in which I have always operated. Someone once told me, “Love comes in all colors” and I believe that.

Q—Describe your protagonists for us

A—Eja Kane is a brilliant mid-list mystery author with serious self-image issues. Deming Swann is the heir to one of the world’s great fortunes. Even though he looks “like a film star crossed with a fashion model” he has always pined for his childhood pal Eja Kane. Who knew?

Q—Does anything else stand out in this series?

A—Deming’s parents defy all stereotypes about prospective in-laws, particularly Anika Swann, his mother. She’s a beautiful former runway model who is also brave and kind. When she and Eja team up, you can expect trouble!

Q—Any final thoughts?

A—Dialogue and pacing are critical to me. As a reader I grow impatient with protracted narratives that go nowhere. My novels zip along.

Gilt Trip - 600x900x300 copy

Exercise is over-rated! 

Eja Kane joins a dojo hoping to shape up and zone out before her wedding to Deming Swann. Instead of sweat and spiritual healing, she finds a simmering cauldron of sex, jealousy, and greed. 

When a con-woman’s corpse literally drops at her feet, Eja and the entire Swann clan plunge into a nasty bullion scam that imperils Deming’s clients and snares even the virtuous in its grip. Link to purchase book

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Eja and Demming are taking this mystery out for a spin! 

Munitions heir Dario Peters has a yen for competitive cycling and cash. When he suffers a fatal crash on a Cape Cod bike path, everyone calls it a tragic accident. But his doting grandma knows better. 

Persus Cantor begs amateur sleuths Eja Kane and Deming Swann—her nephew—to come to Bayview and investigate the case. The newly engaged duo finds that Dario was a ne’er-do-well with a host of enemies in the upscale Cape Cod village. A scheming psychic, an enraged environmentalist, and a greedy realtor all wanted him dead, not to mention his tempestuous wife, Paloma. 

Through it all, Eja and Deming continue their sizzling romance. Only a brainy bestselling author like Eja can match a man like Deming, whose movie star looks, smarts, and sophistication are enough to dazzle even the bad guys. Link to purchase book

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A wisecracking mystery writer and one of Boston’s richest bluebloods share only one tie: her lifelong friend is his twin sister. When someone murders Cece Swann, Eja and Deming become the most uncommon team of sleuths in ye olde bean towne. 

Cece had everything—looks, brains, and money galore. Her love of life was legendary, as was her rampant fear of heights. Leaping off a building was the last thing she would ever do. When she dies that way, Eja and Deming know it was neither suicide nor an accident. 

Partnering to catch her killer plunges the pair into a major relationship shift. Gone is the exasperating big-brother figure from Eja’s girlhood; now she’s confronted with an irritating, irresistible grown man. Eja isn’t gorgeous, blue-blooded, or glamorous; she’s battling a few extra pounds and a set of lowered expectations about life in general and men in particular. But when it comes to loyalty and courage, she’s as tough as a junkyard dog and twice as likely to bite. Can she resist taking a chunk out of her arrogant partner during the search for CeCe’s killer? 

Deming’s film star looks and sense of entitlement drive her crazy. Now, however, the rules between them change as they unravel the trail of a ruthless murderer. Link to purchase book

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