Dead on Her Feet
Antonia Blakeley Tango Mystery, #1
Publisher: Booktrope Editions
Date of Publication: February 14th 2014
Number of pages: 280
Cover Artist: Loretta Matson
What happens when a dancer violates the tango code?
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 coverup 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.”
“Tango can be about many things—seduction, longing, nostalgia, intimacy, tenderness— you get the picture. Whatever the music and the moment inspires. This song isn’t one we normally dance to but I happen to think it’s a beautiful piece, especially if you understand the words. It’s called ‘Uno.’ One.” Uno, oh yeah, she thought.
“He gave away his heart to a woman who betrayed him and now he can’t love the way he used to. That’s life and death stuff.” She was pleased to see Christian nodding, solemnly. “For this exercise I want you to move with whatever emotion inspires you. No partners. Walk around the room in the line of dance, counterclockwise, everyone, remember? Don’t worry about steps, the idea is to get used to feeling the music and transmitting it through your bodies.”
Antonia started the track, savoring the instrumental opening. When Sosa finally started to sing the yearning in his voice punctured her heart as it never failed to do. The class shuffled around the room, some self-consciously, others with more abandon. One of the Emory students seemed to be channeling Martha Graham, in a good way.
Something out of the corner of her eye caught her attention: a stranger, not that much taller than she was, standing in the doorway. His military bearing, neatly trimmed mustache, and close-cropped sandy hair would have conveyed unyielding strength if it hadn’t been for the fact that his eyes were pale blue and his nose had been broken at least once. He would have been just her type if she were interested in a relationship.
Today, we welcome Lisa Fernow to Musings and Ramblings. Let's all give a big Geeky welcome!
Thanks, I love geeks!
Let's start with some writer specific questions before moving into the fun stuff. That way everyone can really get to know the person behind the writer. We will finish things off with a round of Think Fast. Ready for the interrogation to begin?
1. Is your writing style more plotter or pantser?
How about pantsless? I was actually once advised to write naked (Dead on Her Feet is a tango mystery, after all, and my mentor felt that would bring more passion to the story – it actually brought splinters but that’s another story). I like to plot, and actually used Excel to keep all the characters and times straight. That should frighten you. It sounds like there is quite the story there.
2. Tell us something about yourself that's not in your bio.
When I was in college at Cornell in the 70’s I lived in a dorm for the creative and performing arts named Risley Hall, and we prided ourselves on hosting speakers, writers, artists, actors and singers who visited the campus. We would invite them to lunch or dinner, and we got all sorts of very cool people like singer songwriter Harry Chapin and beat poet Allen Ginsburg.
One fall the band Renaissance was coming to town, and we invited them to lunch. One of the band members, John Tout, joined about 50 residents and me in my very tiny single dorm room. We played albums (yes, LPs) on my mono (a hand-me-down from my audiophile dad) and partook (is that a word?) of a substance that I can now say is legal in Washington State today. Hey, it was the 70’s.
John invited a few of us to join the band after their gig at the Holiday Inn in Syracuse, and told us to ask for them in the bar. So around midnight a few friends and I tramped up to the revolving restaurant and blithely announced, “We’re with the band.” The waiters and waitresses suddenly became very friendly, and I couldn’t figure out why until one of them came up to me and gushed, “I really love your music.” I realized that I was being mistaken for the lead singer, Annie Haslam, who I did (very) slightly resemble. It was an awkward moment. What to do? Should I point out their mistake? After a beat, I demurely replied, “Thank you very much.” So I have actually impersonated a rock star.
I still love their music – here is a photo of them taken about the time I would have met them.
3. What do you like to do when you are not writing?
Dance tango, of course! Wearing shoes like these, which I bought last February:
If you’d like to see me in action, click here to see a short clip of me dancing with my dear friend Bill at the launch party for Dead on Her Feet with a smiling image of Evita looking on. This was shot at the end of the evening after I’d had more than my fair share of Argentine Malbec, so I was a little tipsy in both senses of the word. Bill was a good sport about it. Still fancier foot work than I can manage!
4. How did you choose the genres you write in?
I grew up on the classic mysteries of Ngaio Marsh, Agatha Christie, Nicholas Blake, Nero Wolfe, and Sherlock Holmes. And I can pinpoint the exact story that got me started.
My dad decided it was time we started reading something more advanced than children’s books together and took out his favorite volume of Sherlock Holmes stories – he made me read the introduction aloud to see if I could handle the vocabulary. I sat in his lap in his favorite Eames armchair and the first story we read together was The Adventure of the Dancing Men. I went back to the book today to double-check the title and see I left my chocolaty fingerprints all over the pages, oops. That's just tangible proof that the books was loved!
5.What has been the toughest criticism given to you as an author? What has been the best compliment?
I got a really terrible comment on Amazon from an unhappy reader who gave the book one star. I shared this review with members of my social network who promptly decided he must be someone who deliberately gives bad reviews to other writers to improve his own ratings. That was nice of them to rise to my defense but I think if you are going to believe the 5 star reviews you have to accept the 1 star reviews.
As far as the best complement, I really tried hard to do justice to the tango community – which means getting the culture right, as well as all the technical details. One of my Argentine friends who dances tango came up to me at a milonga (a tango dance) and said that when he read Dead on Her Feet he felt I had channeled one of our favorite tango masters. I can’t imagine a higher compliment, and can only hope other readers experience a fraction of what he felt.
1. What was the last movie/concert/show that you saw?
Gone Girl – what a movie! Amazing story and performances, don’t you think? I have to admit that I haven't had a chance to see it yet.
2. If you could have any superpower, what would it be and why?
I wish to have the metabolism of a 20 year old. No, I demand it. Here, Here! Sounds like a perfect superpower to me!
3. If you could have dinner with anyone, past or present, fictional or real, who would it be and why?
I’d love to have dinner with Kerry Greenwood’s jazz age flapper detective Phryne Fisher. I’m sure the talk would turn to all the ways we enjoy flaunting convention.
4. You are going to be stranded on a deserted island and bring 3 luxury items. What would they be?
Am I planning to stay indefinitely? Then I would bring an entire working theatre with a downloadable library of movies, a fully stocked kitchen with magically working appliances, and a handsome, resourceful adventurer who can hold great conversations. Is it cheating to ask for a person? Not in the least! I would say a handsome, resourceful adventurer who is a great conversationalist would be right there wiht the magically working appliances. *wink*
5. What would we find in your refrigerator right now?
Champagne, pappardelle with chanterelles, gruyere, eggs, kefir, milk, carrots, lettuce, spinach, almond milk and probably a few science experiments. It wouldn't be a frig without a few science experiments somewhere.
6. If someone wrote a biography about you, what do you think the title should be?
She was always that way.
1. Elvis or Sinatra? Very tough call but I’m going with Sinatra. I once stayed at a French hotel right on the Riviera and at night I could hear Sinatra wafting through the open windows of my bedroom. Hard to beat that.
2. AM or PM? AM, although all my interests happen in the PM, which is a pain.
3. Meat or Veggies? Meat – osso buco!
4. Car or Truck? Convertible!
5. Dead Tree or Electronic? Dead tree – I could use it for firewood. Oh, you mean books! I stand by my original answer.
Thanks for coming by and spending some time with us. Any final words of wisdom to pass along?
Thanks so much for having me. If you would like to sign up for my email list at www.lisafernow.com I’ll send you a PDF of some of my favorite female sleuths behaving badly. Phryne Fisher is one of them!
Lisa will be awarding a $30 GC to winner's choice of online bookseller to a randomly drawn winner via rafflecopter during the tour.
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