Thursday, July 3, 2014

Elective Procedures by Merry Jones: Interview with Excerpt



Welcome Back!  I am so happy to host you on your latest tour with Partners in Crime.  :)  How did you start your writing career?


I’ve always written, but I don’t consider that my writing career began until I was in my 40s. My early jobs required me to write endless articles and scripts
for industrial and business clients, but I didn’t consider any of that “real” writing because the “stories” I was telling weren’t my own. But after my second child was born, a woman I knew approached me about writing a non-fiction book about stepmothers. It seemed like a good idea. I was a stepmother and found the role difficult and challenging and crazy-making. Besides, I was 41 years old. If I didn’t start writing my own “stories” then, when would I? So that was the beginning. STEPMOTHERS: Keeping it together with your husband and his kids came out a couple of decades ago, and since then I’ve had 18 other books published.



Does travel play in the writing of your books?

Travel plays a big part in many of my books. ELECTIVE PROCEDURES, my most recent release, takes place in and around Puerto Vallarta. I’ve also written books set in Israel, upstate NY, upstate rural Pennsylvania, Philadelphia and Chicago.


The setting of a novel is as important as any of the characters. It’s the “world” of the book. As a writer, I need to know the flavor and texture of the setting. In order to really get to know it, I have to visit it, listen to the sounds, feel the climate, sense the culture, see the colors. Only after I have a clear impression of the setting can I put my characters into it and see them interact within it.


Tell us about your current release.


ELECTIVE PROCEDURES is the sequel to THE TROUBLE WITH CHARLIE. It was fun to hang out with the characters again.  


It starts about a year after CHARLIE ends. Elle Harrison, the protagonist, is still mourning her husband Charlie, so her friends push her to join them for weekly “girls’” nights out. On one such night, a friend drags her to a psychic reader, who tells Elle that she will travel, that she will meet a new man, that her aura is blood-stained and that she attracts the dead.


Elle is shaken, but dismisses the reading as nonsense. Even so, she soon travels with her pals to Mexico where one of them is getting cosmetic surgery. There, she meets a doctor who asks her out. And—as if to cap off the psychic’s predictions-- people around her start dying: A woman falls off the next door balcony. Another is stabbed to death. Soon it becomes clear that cosmetic surgery patients are being killed. Not only that: a murderer seems to have targeted Elle and her friends.


Even as she tries to outwit the killer, Elle has to wonder if the psychic was right—Does she attract death? Is her aura stained with blood? She begins to see and hear from her dead husband Charlie and questions her own mental health. As danger mounts, Elle fights not just a twisted killer, but also the shadows of her own mind.

When in the day/night do you write? How long per day?


I prefer to write in the mornings but not too early. And I need to write for three or four hours. Less doesn’t allow me to get into the work; more makes my head explode.

What is the hardest part of writing your books?


Starting. Writing the beginning is the hardest—Especially if I’m working with new characters. It takes time to get to know them. Even if I know the storyline, I have to learn how they think and talk, what they’re sensitive about, where they live, how they spend free time. And even if I know the characters, the beginning of a book always feels rocky. It takes a while for me to settle down and let the rhythm flow. Often I have to go back and smooth out the early pages.

Where do you research for your books?


On location. On the internet. On the phone or in person, talking to authorities.

For example, for ELECTIVE PROCEDURES, I visited Puerto Vallarta to write about it. I attended the festival of the Virgin of Guadeloupe and walked along deserted beaches (I know, hard work J). I went online to get translations of Spanish phrases. I read about various cosmetic surgery procedures online, and interviewed people who’d had procedures done and talked to a doctor who performs it.


Whenever I write a book, I try to learn something new and include accurate information about it in the storyline, so that readers might also learn.


Does your significant other read your stuff?


My husband Robin is my first reader. But I won’t let him see even a sentence until the entire draft is finished.


Plotter or Pantser? Why?


Plotter. And pantser. I always start out with an outline—often so my agent or publisher will approve it. But also so I have a sense of safety, that I won’t write myself into dead ends and get lost along the way. But it’s not uncommon for me to abandon some of the outline as characters surprise me, rebel, and demand that I go in a new direction. When that happens, I have to decide if they are just trying to get attention for themselves, or if they have valid ideas. If they are right, I let them lead me. And I love it.

Elective Procedures

by Merry Jones

on Tour July 2014

Book Details:

Genre: Suspense

Published by: Oceanview

Publication Date: July 1, 2014

Number of Pages: 288

ISBN: 978-1-60809-116-4

Note: Excessive strong language

Purchase Links:


Elle Harrison has taken a leave of absence to mourn the death of her husband Charlie.

Her friend Becky takes her out to dinner to cheer her up and, on impulse, drags her into a fortune teller's shop. The fortune teller predicts that Elle will travel and meet a new man. She also says that Elle is surrounded by a dark aura that draws the dead to her.

Elle dismissed the predictions as hogwash. But then her friend Jen takes her, Becky and another friend, Susan, to Mexico where she is getting lost cost cosmetic surgery. Elle is attracted to and asked out by Jen's surgeon, Alain DuBois. And Elle finds a woman hanging onto the balcony next to hers by her fingertips. Elle tries to save her and fails, almost dying in the process.

All of the fortune teller's predictions have come true. And, as the week progresses, more of Alain DuBois' patients are gruesomely killed, Jen is attacked, Elle is nearly murdered, and the spirit of her dead husband Charlie keeps appearing to her.

Who is trying to kill Dr. DuBois' patients--And why? Who is trying to murder Elle? Why does she keep seeing Charlie--Is she nuts? Or is his spirit really trying to protect her?

ELECTIVE PROCEDURES makes a week in Mexico into a chilling page turner, full of twists and unexpected developments, as well as a face lift or two.

Read an excerpt:

Don't look down. Don't look down.

I kept repeating those three syllables, a singsong mantra to steady myself and get through time, pushing through seconds and minutes until it would be afterwards and this nightmare would be over.

Don't look down.

But I didn't have to look. I knew what was beneath me. I could picture what was lying six stories down on the concrete beside the kidney shaped swimming pool, near the mouth of the alligator water slide. Under the glowing light of sunrise, I imagined a widening crimson puddle. A clump of arms and legs. A shattered bone protruding through flesh. Tangled hair matted into a cracked skull.

Don't look down, I said again, and I didn't. Instead, I aimed my eyes straight ahead focusing not on the brick wall in front of me, but on the air surrounding my head. I stared into it, straining to see my aura, looking for stains, for splotches of darkness. Was it possible to see your own aura? Was there even such a thing? If there was, I couldn't see it, saw only inches of emptiness between me and the bricks, and, at the periphery of my vision, the railing. For the briefest moment, I had a lapse; I almost turned my head, almost looked down at my hand. Don't look, I chanted. Don't look. Looking would mean moving my head. And if I moved it--if I moved anything at all, I'd disrupt my balance and slip, and then, with a thud, there would be two blobs of bones planted beside the pool.

A pelican dive-bombed past me, the rush of air nearly knocking me over. I held my breath, holding steady. I called out again, hoping someone would wake up, but no one came. So I told myself to stay steady and thing of other things. Other times. I stared at the wall and repeated: Don't look down don't look down don't look down.

Author Bio:

Merry Jones has written the Elle Harrison suspense novels (THE TROUBLE WITH CHARLIE, ELECTIVE PROCEDURES), the Harper Jennings thrillers (SUMMER SESSION, BEHIND THE WALLS, WINTER BREAK, OUTSIDE EDEN, and this fall, IN THE WOODS), the Zoe Hays mysteries (THE NANNY MURDERS, THE RIVER KILLINGS, DEADLY NEIGHBORS, THE BORROWED AND BLUE MURDERS). She has also written humor (including I LOVE HIM, BUT...) and non-fiction (including BIRTHMOTHERS: Women who relinquished babies for adoption tell their stories). Jones taught college creative writing for fifteen years. Her work has been translated into seven languages, and appeared in many magazines, including GLAMOUR. She is a member of Mystery Writers of America, The Authors Guild, International Thriller Writers, and The Philadelphia Liars Club. The mother of two grown daughters, she lives outside Philadelphia with her husband.

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