Dead on Her Feet
by Lisa Fernow
Tango instructor and chronic rule-breaker Antonia “Ant” Blakeley has no respect for authority. So when a much-hated member of the Atlanta tango community is stabbed in the middle of the dance floor, leaving her troubled nephew Christian first on the list of suspects, the last thing she wants to do is use her tango expertise to help the police work out how someone could have struck the fatal blow, unseen. As someone who has experienced police incompetence first hand Antonia doesn’t trust them to find the real killer. So she lies to give Christian an alibi, and the cover-up begins.
Unfortunately for Ant, former marine Detective Sam Morrow is on the case and he will do whatever it takes to solve the crime. He’s not about to let Antonia hijack his case. As both Ant and Sam investigate (or in Ant’s case, interfere), the two sleuths are about to find out the more antagonistic meaning of “it takes two to tango.”
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Chattahoochee River National Recreation Area, Atlanta
THE ELEGANTLY SUITED ANTIQUES DEALER stood on a slab of bedrock jutting out into the Chattahoochee River and gazed out at Devil’s Race Course Shoals. The water level had been unseasonably low that July so he had been able to walk out practically into the middle of the channel without wetting his dress shoes.
In a few minutes the sun would set and the park would officially close. The water enthusiasts would pull their rafts from the rapids and the hikers would turn back on their trails to return to their cars and eventually, reluctantly, to civilization. Thunder rumbled in the distance.
Getting out into nature, far removed from his normal milieu, normally helped him to clear his mind but the Argentina business was different. Shameful. What should he do? Calling in the police was out of the question. He tried to play out the alternatives, weighing the consequences of each.
The thunder grew louder.
He pulled his cell phone out of his jacket pocket and dialed a number he knew better than to call but the unaccustomed wine he’d drunk at dinner overrode his better judgment. The phone rang five times. Finally a message came on instructing him to leave his name.
He said, “I need to talk to you. It’s important. Pick up. Pick up.”
He rambled into the phone at length as darkness fell, failing to notice that the river had begun to rise.
It is my pleasure to welcome Lisa Fernow, author of Dead on her Feet, to Room With Books!
What do you do when you are not writing?
Besides dancing tango? Eating and traveling! I love to cook and throw dinner parties, and I am very lucky to have friends who feel the same. Last week I made chicken paella and salad, served with figs and Serrano ham, and my friends brought wine and an amazing plum tart. My other passion is travel. As we speak I am in Beloit WI for my nephew’s parents’ weekend pretending to be a parent.
Is there any particular author or book that influenced you in any way either growing up or as an adult?
I was heavily influenced by Harriet the Spy. I kept a notebook and followed my friends around, which may explain why I am so interested in human behavior. I grew up loving Sherlock Holmes, Nancy Drew, Ngaio Marsh, Agatha Christie, Nero Wolfe, Nicholas Blake and other golden age mysteries.
Can you tell us about your challenges in getting your first book published?
If you are an aspiring author reading this, NEVER EVER give up. I wrote 14 full drafts of Dead on Her Feet and was rejected by at least 50 agents – including several who were very generous with their feedback – before ultimately finding a fit with Booktrope. It got to the point where my friends were afraid to ask me what I was doing. But somehow Woody Allen’s quote kept running through my head, “just show up.” He’s right. I found the right publisher at the right time and couldn’t be happier.
If you could have any superpower what would you choose?
The metabolism of a twenty year old? Actually I would love to be able to speak every language in the world so I could talk to anyone I wanted. I can order a beer in probably 30 languages but that really isn’t the same.
What was your first job?
I worked in a pizzeria run by the Mafia. I didn’t realize this until one of my Italian American friends pointed it out to me.
What types of books do you write?
My tango mystery follows in the tradition of Ngaio Marsh and Elizabeth Peters, where the action takes place in a self contained, exotic world (Marsh / theatre and Peters / archeology). I think of them as “classic mysteries” but my friends at the Seattle Mystery Bookshop tell me that they consider Dead On Her Feet a cozy. So you could call my tango mystery a “sexy cozy.”
Who’s your main audience?
Readers who love classic detective fiction and feisty heroines.
Out of all of your characters, which is your favorite?
I have a soft spot for Bobby Glass. He’s a paleontology professor, new to tango, who has terrible eyesight, two left feet, and no confidence with women. Yet he perserveres.
What does your writing schedule look like?
It’s a mess. I am supposed to write every day but since I also have a consulting practice I need to work around the needs of my clients. So I try my best to schedule writing around them, and I end up not writing for long periods. I know better!
Do you use your OWN experiences?
Absolutely! But I only use them as springboards and by the time they find their way into my writing they are unrecognizable (I certainly hope they are, anyhow!).
Was it easy to pick the title for your book?
It was; I let it percolate into being over time. When you read Dead on Her Feet I hope you’ll enjoy the double meaning.
What one profession would you pick if you were not an author?
I have a consulting practice centered on innovation, helping companies improve their products and services and successfully invent new ones. I love it because there are always “Eureka Moments” – flashes of inspiration when you solve a tough problem – that are very similar to what happens during the creative process. And both writing and consulting give me a window into the human condition, which is endlessly fascinating to me.
What are you currently working on?
I am plotting the second mystery in my tango series. This one takes place in Seattle, and I had to work out what my heroine, tango instructor Antonia Blakeley, could be doing there, and which of the surviving characters from Dead on Her Feet would come with her, and how. I have worked out who the killer is, who the victim is, why and how the murder takes place – really fun, and I can order everything I need to recreate the method on Amazon, just sayin’ – how the killer tries to establish an alibi, and how Antonia breaks it. I am really excited about how this book is shaping up. Now, to finish plotting the rest of it! I have some new characters to invent, with new back stories and conflicts yet to be established.
What is your favorite flavor of ice cream? Rum raisin. I’m not allowed to have it in the house.
Night owl, or early bird? Early bird, but all my favorite vices require staying up at night so I’m conflicted.
Red, or white wine? Red. Syrah, Malbec, Bordeaux blends … the lot.
Roller Coasters or Water Rides? Neither. I don’t like physical thrills.
Swimming in the ocean or a pool? Ocean! I love bobbing about.
Walking or fitness club? If I have to choose I’d say I’m a flaneur – a French word which basically means I like to bum around on foot and see what’s going on around me.
Any last words?
Thank you for having me, and I hope you’ll let me know what you think of Dead on Her Feet – I value feedback from my readers, and you’ll be helping me shape this series.
And if you sign up for my email list on www.lisafernow.com I’ll share a free piece I wrote on Female Sleuths Behaving Badly – 13 of my favorite feisty heroines from books, TV and film for you to enjoy. And you’ll be the first to know when the second book comes out.
Thanks you for chatting with me and our readers and for allowing Room With Books to be part of your tour!
AUTHOR Bio and Links:
Lisa Fernow grew up on the classic mysteries of Ngaio Marsh and Elizabeth Peters. Lisa has danced Argentine tango since 1996, studying with such legendary masters as Cacho Dante, Susana Miller, and Brigitta Winkler, as well as other inspiring instructors in Atlanta, Seattle, and Portland. Lisa’s short story,Death of a Tango Dancer was featured in King County Library’s Take Time to Read program. She lives in Seattle, Washington. Dead on Her Feet is the first book in a planned series set in the tango world. Read more at www.lisafernow.com.
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