The Clock Strikes Midnight
Joan C. Curtis
Publisher: MuseItUp Publishing
Date of Publication: November 25, 2014
Number of pages: 359
Word Count: 93,640
Cover Artist: Carolinea Bensler
The Clock Strikes Midnight is a race against time in a quest for revenge and atonement. This is a story about hate, love, betrayal and forgiveness.
If you found out you had only 3 months to live, what would you do? That’s the question Janie Knox faces in this fast-paced mystery full of uncertainty and tension that will surprise you until the very last page.
Hiding behind the façade of a normal life, Janie keeps her family secrets tucked inside a broken heart. Everything changes on the day she learns she’s going to die. With the clock ticking and her time running out, she rushes to finish what she couldn’t do when she was 17—destroy her mother’s killer. But she can’t do it alone.
Janie returns to her childhood home to elicit help from her sister. She faces more than she bargained for when she discovers her sister’s life in shambles. Meanwhile her mother’s convicted killer, her stepfather, recently released from prison, blackmails the sisters and plots to extract millions from the state in retribution. New revelations challenge Janie’s resolve, but she refuses to allow either time or her enemies to her stop her from uncovering the truth she’s held captive for over 20 years.
“Daddy, when I get my kitty, can I name him Davy?” she had asked, yanking Marlene’s Davy Crockett mug full of M&M’s from her grasp.
The colorful candy spilled all over the backseat of the car.
“Mama, tell Janie to—”
“Janie, behave,” Daddy said, admonishing her for an instant with his eyes from the rearview mirror.
“Malcolm, look out—!” Mom screamed.
Janie slammed into Marlene. Pain. The world tumbled topsy-turvy. The mug flew across the interior of the car, colors of the rainbow falling all around her.
Then, everything went black.
When she opened her eyes, Mom’s blood-streaked face rose in front of her out of the darkness.
“Wrap your arms around my neck, honey.” Mom lifted her from the wreckage.
Janie clutched her doll by the dress while the rain beat her curly hair flat.
Marlene stood on the side of the road.
“Try to walk,” Mom said, toppling her from her arms.
Her head pounded and blood trickled down her leg. She leaned on her good leg and limped in the direction of her sister.
“Mama, where’s Daddy?” Marlene asked between sobs.
Mom took Marlene’s hand and yanked her forward with Janie in tow.
Marlene lurched back toward the smashed Oldsmobile with smoke billowing from its hood and a big tree lying across the roof. The Davy Crockett mug lay shattered by the back tire.
“Daddy! We can’t leave Daddy!” Marlene yelled, picking up pieces of the broken glass.
They had left Daddy that day and piled into an old Chevy pick-up truck with a bashed in headlamp, belonging to a man with carrot-red hair. Mom pushed them inside the truck and ordered the man to get help. But by then it was too late for Daddy.
It was too late for all of them.
by Joan Curtis
Marlene lives in Buckhead--a very nice area in Atlanta, Georgia--not far from the Governor's mansion. She is a protagonist in The Clock Strikes Midnight. Let's find out more about Marlene in this interview.
JC: I know you starred in the debut mystery, The Clock Strikes Midnight. What was it like being a main character in this book?
Marlene: I loved it. I was able to express myself in ways I didn't expect. I had a difficult relationship with my sister, Janie. We were always close as kids particularly after our father died. I took on the role of Janie protector. That went well until we became teenagers. Janie was a bit rebellious. She didn't take too kindly to her sister asking her what she was doing all the time.
JC: You say your dad died when you were kids. How did that affect you and Janie?
Marlene: It had a profound influence on us. We were very close to our father. He was kind and loving--not just to us--but to our mom as well. He was the rock in the family. When we lost our dad so suddenly, it was like the world shattered under our feet. Janie and I both clung to one another for a long time. Later my mom remarried and that caused more tension in the family.
JC: Let's move away from the family problems of the past. Tell us what you love doing now.
Marlene: I'm a great reader. I've always loved losing myself in books. As a teen I read Susan Howatch. She wrote two books I remember quite well: Cashelmara and Penmarric. They were tomes I got from the local library that I devoured. I liked Howatch because she developed such rich characters. She wrote each section of the book from a different characters' point of view. That enabled me to get into the character's skin.
What else do I love doing now? I have always dreamed of being an artist. I don't think I have much talent, but it's been fun taking painting classes. I set up a small studio in my home. I mostly paint outdoor scenes--I'm not very good with people.
And, I love cats. Nellie is my current feline passion. She's about eight years old, a perfect Tabby and my best friend.
JC: You mention the way Susan Howatch delved into the psyche of the characters. In The Clock Strikes Midnight, I noticed each chapter alternated between the two main characters. Do you think you were able to really share more about yourself that way?
Marlene: The Clock Strikes Midnight is a very different book than those Howatch wrote. It's a suspense/mystery. I believe the author decided to go from one character to the other for two reasons 1) To bring the reader closer to both characters and 2) To create suspense.
JC: Finally, Marlene, what is next for you?
Marlene: I'm planning to return to school. I want to finish my education. My Aunt Sarah helped me learn about finance and I worked in her business for a number of years and loved it. But after my mom died and I married Peter, I let all that slide. I'm ready to return and finish my BA degree. Then, I hope to put my skills to work in a job.
Thank you, Marlene for joining us today. We are all looking forward to reading more about you in your debut mystery, The Clock Strikes Midnight.
One randomly chosen winner via rafflecopter will win a $50 Amazon/BN.com gift card.
Joan Curtis authored four business books published by Praeger Press. She is also published numerous stories, including:
• Butterflies in a Strawberry Jar, Sea Oats Review, Winter, 2004
• A Memoir Of A Friend, Chicken Soup for the Working Woman’s Soul, 2003 and Flint River Review, 1996
• Jacque’s Story in From Eulogy to Joy, 2002
• The Roommate, Whispering Willow Mystery Magazine, April 1997
• A Special Sort of Stubbornness, Reader’s Digest, March 1997
• My Father’s Final Gift, Reader Digest, November 1994
Her first place writing awards include : Best mystery manuscript in the Malice Domestic Grants competition, best proposal for a nonfiction piece in the Harriette Austin competition, and best story, Butterflies in a Strawberry Jar in the Cassell Network of Freelance Writer’s Association.
Hire Smart and Keep ‘Em: How to Interview Strategically Using POINT, Praeger Press, an imprint of ABC-Clio, Santa Barbara, CA 2012.
The New Handshake: Sales Meets Social Media, Praeger Press, 2010, an imprint of ABC-Clio, Santa Barbara, CA
Managing Sticky Situations at Work: Communication Secrets for Success in the Workplace, 2009, Praeger Press, an imprint of ABC-Clio, Santa Barbara, CA.
Strategic Interviewing: Skills for Savvy Executives, 2000 published by Quorum Books, Greenwood Press.
“I write about characters who remind me of myself at times and my sister at times, but never fully so. My stories are told from a woman’s point of view. Characters drive my writing and my reading.”
Having grown up in the South with a mother from Westchester County New York, Joan has a unique take on blending the southern traditions with the eye of a northerner. She spent most of her childhood in North Carolina and now resides in Georgia.
To connect with the author online:
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