Thursday, December 1, 2016

King Peso by Carmen Amato @goddessfish @CarmenConnects


Welcome!!  Thanks so much for stopping at my blog on your tour with Goddess Fish Promotions.  I'm thrilled to host you and can't wait to find out more about you and your work!!  😃

How did you start your writing career?
First, thanks for having me, I’m delighted to be able to stop by. I write romantic thrillers and the Detective Emilia Cruz mystery series set in Acapulco. I’m originally from New York but got bitten by the travel bug early in life when I went to college in Paris. Mexico inspired me to write fiction and my first novels are set there.

I began the Detective Emilia Cruz series after being confronted with an armed drug addict on Christmas Eve a few years ago. My family lived in Mexico City and we were attending the midnight Mass in our Catholic church when the ceremony was disrupted by a man who came in shouting incoherently and waving a gun. We were all shocked to see him make his way up the center aisle and accost our pastor, Father Richard.

Without skipping a beat, Father Richard found a few pesos and gave them to the man, who settled down. Parishioners came forward, took away the gun, and escorted the addict out of the church. Mass went on.

Now living back in the US, I wanted to show what is going on in Mexico but also offer hope for better times. That’s how the first female police detective in Acapulco came to be. Emilia Cruz is taking on murder, mayhem, and Mexico’s culture of machismo in one of the most beautiful and deadly places in the world.

Has someone helped or mentored you in your writing career?
Although I never met him, the late mystery author Leighton Gage was my mentor.
Several years ago, before I wrote KING PESO and the Detective Emilia Cruz series, I was trying to get an agent for my first book, the romantic thriller THE HIDDEN LIGHT OF MEXICO CITY. During my search for an agent, I connected with a well known US fiction author. She was a real publishing insider and I had high expectations. Our conversation went something like this:
Well known author: The novel is set in Mexico. All the characters are Mexican.
Me: That’s right. It’s about the lives of the people fighting the drug cartels. And Mexico’s class structure.
Well known author: New York will never touch it. And a New York agent is the only kind worth having. New York agents are looking for the next Sex and the City. Glossy. High heels. New York.
Me: This is a thriller. It will take readers inside Mexican culture, the way Martin Cruz Smith’s series does for Russian culture.
Well known author: New York won’t buy a book with all Mexican characters. And your main character is a maid. At least couldn’t you make her American? You know, a college girl from Pittsburgh named Susan or Tess who goes to Mexico on a cultural exchange program to work as a maid for a semester.
I hung up the phone, absolutely crushed.
The character had to be Mexican, it was integral to THE HIDDEN LIGHT OF MEXICO CITY. Dejected, I put the book aside and started another project, which grew into the Detective Emilia Cruz series. Would I run into the same attitude with a series about the first female police detective in Acapulco?
Then I found the Inspector Silva mystery series by Leighton Gage. All the characters were Brazilian! The series was well-written, immersed in Brazil’s culture, and had a strong following. It made me see that readers loved learning about another culture as they unraveled a mystery.
I pushed ahead with CLIFF DIVER, the first book in the Detective Emilia Cruz series and am thrilled that KING PESO, the 4th book is out. Readers have embraced Emilia and her version of beautiful but deadly Acapulco. The books have even been optioned for a television series.
I never met Leighton Gage, who passed away a few years ago, but he’s the role model who made believe in my characters and have the courage to ignore bad advice.

When in the day/night do you write? How long per day?
I prefer to write new material in the morning, after a walk with the dog. My brain is alert and it’s easy to come up with fresh ideas. I usually write for about 4 hours. Later in the day I’ll answer emails and work on my blog.

Of course, it would be nice to say that I do this every day like clockwork but every few days I just edit and don’t write anything new. And every few days life intrudes and I get nothing done! But writing to an outline helps keep me focused and moving forward.

 Do you have critique partners or beta readers?
I belong to a critique group that meets monthly. It’s moderated by mystery writer Donna Andrews and hugely helpful.

Several group members act as beta readers for each other. When I was writing KING PESO, one of the members gave me good feedback on the big climax and pointed out an inconsistency I hadn’t realized existed.

Her critique led me to rewrite a pivotal scene with Emilia’s partner Franco Silvio, making his reaction to the discover of his wife’s murderer much more explosive and believable, especially to readers who know his surly personality.

What was one of the most surprising things you learned while writing your books?
If I can be disciplined with my time, the more I write, the better and faster the process goes.
I had actually been playing around with KING PESO for more than 15 months. It wasn’t until I got an accountability buddy and we started to report to each other every week that I got the last third of the book done.

Your creative muscle is just like any other muscle. The more you work it, the bigger and better it gets. You can write that book, but not if you just talk about it. And the 5th book will be easier to write than the first. After the first, not only do you have a boost of confidence (Hey, I did that!) but you know the process and all the pieces of a novel that you have to create and polish.

Of course, I think that writing from an outline is essential, as is writing the book from start to finish instead of writing various scenes and trying to knit them together later. I began my first novel, THE HIDDEN LIGHT OF MEXICO CITY, in the middle, which explains why it took me nearly 10 years to complete. Lesson learned.

How do you describe your writing style?
Have you heard of tartan noir or Nordic noir? I write narco noir.

The Detective Emilia Cruz series is for those who love fast-moving police procedural mysteries. The books are authentic to both the genre and contemporary Mexico. Expect tough language, a street view of crime, and a sprinkling of Spanish words and Mexican food. The books are not cozy mysteries.

In short, if you like international police procedural novels by Ian Rankin (the John Rebus series), Jo Nesbo (the Harry Hole series), or Henning Mankell (the Wallander series) you’ll know what to expect when you read the Detective Emilia Cruz series.  

Like books by these authors, the Detective Emilia Cruz series is driven by personal relationships and motivations and doesn’t depend on forensics or technology. The vibe of this genre is dark and edgy, with plots embedded in greed and power.

Do you hear from your readers? What kinds of questions do they ask?
I hear from readers so much that the #suggest section of my monthly newsletter, Mystery Ahead, is devoted to answering reader questions. Last month reader Jean B. asked how do I come up with character names?

The answer is that I have a collection of Central American newspaper notices of people who are being publicly called out by banks for defaulting on loans. These are similar in intent to public notices in US newspapers. I mix and match from these lists to create character names.

Do you have any suggestions for beginning writers? If so, what are they?
Two pieces of advice:
1. Don’t fall in love with your writing. Fall in love with your setting, characters, and plot, but be ready to polish your prose over and over.
2. Check points of view. Keep each character’s point of view separate.
Other than that, enjoy the journey. No matter where you are on the publishing road, there are twists and turns ahead. Enjoy them all.

To say thanks for having me in to chat. I’d like to invite everyone to stop by my website and pick up a free copy of the Detective Emilia Cruz Starter Library. The Starter Library features “The Beast,” the story about how Emilia became the first female detective in Acapulco, which was first published in The Huffington Post. You’ll also get “The Angler,” the story based on a real life murder mystery, plus the first chapters of the first three Emilia Cruz novels. As a bonus, you’ll get my monthly newsletter, Mystery Ahead.
All the best, Carmen


King Peso
by Carmen Amato

GENRE:  police procedural mystery


KING PESO is the fourth book in the sensational Detective Emilia Cruz mystery series recently optioned for both television and film. Emilia is the first female police detective in Acapulco, where Mexican drug cartels battle for control and politicians are bought with blood money.

Three cops are murdered, execution style. Emilia worked with them all.

Her partner’s wife is killed in a home invasion. Was he the real target?

Is Emilia the next?

She hopes to be assigned to a task force to investigate the killings, but is instead directed to a new police unit championed by Acapulco’s ambitious mayor and overseen by a shady union strongman. But when Emilia stumbles upon a falsified report, she will conduct a private investigation, even as another murder victim carries a stark message for her. 

Home is no refuge for Emilia; hotel manager Kurt Rucker has a shocking secret that could tear their relationship apart.

Unexpected help comes from a frightened attorney and a famous movie star, but each new clue to the murders unravels the one before. Meanwhile, Emilia’s ongoing hunt for a missing girl, a continuing series subplot, leads to the infamous El Pharaoh casino, a place she knows only too well.

What do a casino and a cop killer have in common? Emilia bets on her partner, but his gamble could cost both their lives.


“I think I’m on the task force,” Emilia said. “Because I worked with all three victims.”

She’d crossed paths professionally with all three of the murder victims, although none had been a close colleague. She hadn’t even met Salinas, just talked to him a couple of times on the phone. But he’d been honest with her and done what he said he would do. A rare and rapidly disappearing commodity these days.

“Who else worked with all of them?” Kurt asked. “Silvio? What does he think?”

“Franco worked with Vega on the arson case, too.” Franco Silvio was Acapulco’s senior police detective and Emilia’s perpetually surly partner. “But he never met Salinas or Espinosa. He wasn’t invited to the meeting, either. None of the other detectives were.”

“Even Loyola?” Kurt asked.

Emilia shook her head. Loyola, who was junior to Silvio, had been made acting lieutenant of detectives several months ago. He now rarely worked cases. “Not invited. He only knew Vega from the arson case.”

“What are you telling me, Em?” Kurt paused. “That you’re a target, too?”

“I don’t know. Maybe.” Emilia stared at the lights twinkling in the dark ocean as the unseen swimming dock bobbed. “The El Trio killer could be another cop. Someone on the inside who is being specific about their victims.”

“I can’t believe you waited to tell me, Em,” Kurt said, exasperation and sudden anger in his voice. “You live here. If you’re in danger, that means everybody in this hotel is in danger. I have to know things like this.”

Emilia bristled. “I’m telling you now, aren’t I?”

Kurt turned to look at the ocean again, elbows propped on top of the wall. “I guess what I’m trying to say is that I wish you were invested enough in us . . . in this relationship . . . to tell me things when they happen. Not a week later. Because you’re thinking how things impact us. Not just you.”

Emilia concentrated on the pinpoints of light out in the bay. Why did they keep having the same conversation and why was it always so hard?

AUTHOR Bio and Links:

Carmen Amato is the author of romantic thrillers and the Detective Emilia Cruz mystery series set in Acapulco which was recently optioned for film. Originally from New York, her experiences in Mexico and Central America inspire many of her books. For a copy of the Detective Emilia Cruz Starter Library, visit her website at
Follow her on Twitter @CarmenConnects.

Buy link:


Carmen Amato will be awarding a $50 Amazon or Barnes and Noble GC to a randomly drawn winner via rafflecopter during the tour.

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