I am a writer and avid reader of romances particularly historical romances. Please join me on my journey through time
Please welcome Libby Fischer Hellmann author of Jump Cut.
Libby will be awarding $50 Amazon or B/N GC to a randomly drawn winner via rafflecopter during the tour.
by Libby Fischer Hellmann
For years I didn’t know. I could always tell you how and when I started: it was February, 1996, just after my father passed away. We went to DC (that’s where I grew up) for the funeral, and after we came back, I went down into my basement. I emerged four months later with the worst mystery that’s ever been written. No really…. it was baaaad. But I had caught the writing virus. Three novels later my writing improved to the point where I was published for the first time.
Then, about eight years ago, I was watching the news. A story came on, and I experienced one of those smack-yourself-on-the-forehead, how-could-I-have-been-so-stupid moments. You probably remember the story—about O.J. Simpson and how he’d been arrested in Vegas for trying to steal his own memorabilia.
Back then I was free-lancing, and I had a flexible schedule. So I was able to watch a lot of the trial. I remember being glued to the TV, and what I remember most was the theater: a hideous crime, a compelling story, eccentric characters, drama, conflict—in other words, everything you could want in a crime novel.
Then there were the forensics. I knew nothing about police procedure — and less about forensics. DNA tests, blood spatter, the bloody glove, the footprints. I was fascinated that crimes could actually be investigated in a systematic way. And when the defense suggested that some of the evidence had been mishandled—maybe even manipulated—it played to all of my conspiracy theories.
Finally, of course, there was the denouement in October 1995. How absolutely noir an ending! The victims are denied justice. The bad guy goes free. Raymond Chandler or Ross McDonald couldn’t have done it better. OJ was acquitted in October, 1995.
It doesn’t take much to connect the dots, does it? But it wasn’t until twelve years after that, in 2007, when O.J. was arrested in Vegas, that the light bulb flashed. THAT’s why I’m writing crime fiction. Btw, who wants to give the devil his due? Still, if I’m honest, thirteen novels later, I have to admit that this devil changed my life.
I used to say I was “writing my way around the genre.” I’ve written 13 novels, and they include an amateur sleuth series, a PI series, thrillers, hard-boiled, historical thrillers, romantic suspense, even a cozy. I like the challenge of trying new things. But when I first started reading crime fiction, I read espionage thrillers. Particularly what I call the four “L’s: Le Carré, Ludlum, Len Deighton, and Ken FoLLett… (Okay, Follett is a stretch) Btw, most of the authors writing espionage then were men, but that’s another story.
Add to that years of watching “24,” “MI5,” and “Homeland,” and it’s not surprising that I eventually wanted to write espionage thrillers. At the heart of an espionage thriller are two issues: trust and power. Who can a spy trust and how does an agent make that decision? How do you know your asset isn’t a double or even triple agent? What do you do when you realize you can’t trust anyone? As for power, usually it’s the power of information. What decisions come from a spymaster who has more information than their target?
Actually, I believe spies start out with the best intentions, to protect their homeland or stop an enemy. But it’s easy for a spy to become untethered. And when you layer on the effect of technology, espionage is now possible on a mass level.
The challenge was creating a story that manages to explore these issues but doesn’t beat readers over the head with them. I visited The Spy Museum in DC. And Bletchley Park in the UK. I read voraciously, both fiction and nonfiction. Then, as is my pattern, I tested the waters with a short novella. THE INCIDENTAL SPY came out in September and focused on espionage during the early years of the Manhattan Project in Chicago. It turned out pretty well, so I took a deep breath and moved on to modern espionage, taking into account everything I discussed above. JUMP CUT is the result.
That I secretly wanted to be a rock star when I was younger. Grace Slick (Jefferson Airplane and Starship) was my idol. The only problem is that I can’t sing a note. Not even in the shower.
I would love to see Marissa Tomei as Ellie. She would be terrific. If Hollywood needs to go younger (sigh), Emma Stone would be great too. If you know them, can you get them to take a meeting with me? J
I’ve been in a writing group for 16 years. I joined way before I was published, and they deserve most of the credit for the fact that I did get published. It was in my group that I learned most of the craft of writing crime fiction as well as what works and what doesn’t. And while there are certainly times I haven’t brought my best thinking to the group, it has become a good way for me to ‘give’ back to other, younger members in the group.
That assumes I have a life outside of writingJ. Aside from reading, which is still my #1 hobby, I love to travel. I’ve been all over the country, to Cuba, and Europe frequently. And yes, what I’ve seen does end up in my books. I wrote a thriller set in Cuba — Havana Lost. Another book has scenes from Prague and Berlin, both of which I visited… And coming up, I’m visiting the Amalfi Coast which will end up in my next novel. I also work out and have written a short story about it, called The Murder of Katie Boyle. I also love listening to Blues and edited an anthology called Chicago Blues. And I love watching films, especially spy thrillers, which, of course, helped me figure out Jump Cut.
TO KILL A MOCKINGBIRD. Although it was written over 50 years ago, it never feels dated. Moreover, Scout’s voice was and remains original – I don’t know any novelist who has captured the same “Wise innocence” or ability to get to the root of a situation like Scout. MOCKINGBIRD, moreover, deals with an issue that is still with us, perhaps more than ever, but it is never preachy. Harper Lee doesn’t beat you over the head with racism. She simply sets out a story, personalizes the characters, and lets the plot evolve naturally. And, for the record, I don’t think GO SET A WATCHMAN is a worthy sequel.
Right now, I’m in the middle of my second novella that takes place during WW2. This one is about German POWs who were in camps here. The first was THE INCIDENTAL SPY, which was about a woman who is forced to spy on the early years of the Manhattan project. When the POW novella is finished, I’ll combine both into something that likely will have the word “Homefront” in the title. My next major undertaking is going to be more lighthearted — a crime caper novel. I introduced the characters in a short story called Capital Partners (which is widely available online) and I plan to continue their journey.
They change all the time. Right now, I’m digging Viggo Mortensen, although not so much his politics. I also love Alan Arkin. I can’t watch him without laughing. And I have soft spots for Marisa Tomei, Emma Stone, and Naomi Watts.
-Yes. For readers who may be new to the Ellie Foreman series, what can you tell us about her?
Ellie is a Chicago video producer and single mother. I’ve previously written 4 novels with her as the protagonist. Jump Cut is the 5th. She lives on the North Shore about 20 miles from the city itself. Born and raised in Chicago, she married, had a daughter, then got divorced. Her mother passed when Ellie was in her twenties, but her father is still around, and plays a vital role in all the books. Ellie is outgoing and has a self-deprecating sense of humor as well as a strong sense of fairness and justice, so when she sees situations that aren’t, she is apt to get involved. Those situations usually (but not always) arise from the corporate videos she produces. She used to be rather impulsive, but as she’s matured, she’s more thoughtful. Still, she tends to end up in trouble and needs to get herself out of it. She’s had two serious relationships since her divorce – and now has settled in rather comfortably with Luke Sutton. Unlike Georgia Davis, who is a loner, Ellie has a support system of friends and family around her. I like to describe the Ellie books as a cross between “Desperate Housewives” and “24,” but Jump Cut is much more “24’ than the others. Although the mystery is resolved, you can’t really say it has a happy ending.
Chicago video producer, Ellie Foreman, has been absent from thriller author Libby Fischer Hellmann’s repertoire for almost a decade. Now she’s back…and soon entangled in a web of espionage, murder and suspicion that threatens to destroy what she holds most dear. Hired to produce a candyfloss profile of Chicago-based aviation giant, Delcroft, Ellie is dismayed when company VP Charlotte Hollander, the architect of a new anti-drone system for Delcroft, trashes the production and cancels the project. Ellie believes Hollander was spooked by shots of a specific man in the video footage. But when Ellie arranges to meet the man to find out why, he’s killed by a subway train before they can talk. In the confusion, she finds a seemingly abandoned pack of cigarettes with a flash drive inside that belonged to the now dead man.
Ellie has the drive’s contents decrypted, but before long she discovers she’s under surveillance. Suspecting Delcroft and the ambitious Hollander are behind it, she’s unconvinced when Hollander tells her the dead man was a Chinese spy. Ellie and her boyfriend Luke try to find answers, but they don’t realize how far into the dangerous echelons of hidden power they have ventured. When Ellie’s daughter is kidnapped and Charlotte Hollander disappears, it becomes terrifyingly clear that Ellie is in way over her head, and more lives are on the line, including her own.
Before my gangstah-rap neighbor emptied his AK-47 into his buddy, the most exciting thing to happen in our village was the opening of a new grocery store. The store hired a pianist who played Beatles tunes, no doubt to persuade shoppers to part with their money more easily. My neighbor, rapper King Bling, was helping his fans part with their money too, but the shooting ended all that. Once he made bail, he moved and hasn’t been heard from since.
And so it goes in my little corner of the North Shore, about twenty miles from downtown Chicago. There are benefits. The King, as he’s known to his disciples, gave our cops something to do besides ticket speeders. And the new grocery store gave me the chance to buy prepared dinners so I could dispense with cooking.
Both of which come in handy when I’m producing a video, as was the case now. We didn’t finish the shoot until seven. I raced up the expressway toward home, dropped into the store, and was eyeballing a turkey pot roast—the only one left—when my cell trilled. I fished it out of my bag.
“Mom, where did you get the shoes?” I heard chatter and giggles in the background.
“What shoes, Rachel?”
“The ones you gave Jackie.” My daughter, Rachel, had successfully, if unbelievably, graduated from college and lived in an apartment in Wrigleyville. Jackie was her roommate. “Everybody thinks they’re awesome.”
AUTHOR Bio and Links:
Libby Fischer Hellmann left a career in broadcast news in Washington, DC and moved to Chicago 35 years ago, where she, naturally, began to write gritty crime fiction. Twelve novels and twenty short stories later, she claims they’ll take her out of the Windy City feet first. She has been nominated for many awards in the mystery and crime writing community and has even won a few. *
With the addition of Jump Cut in 2016, her novels include the now five-volume Ellie Foreman series, which she describes as a cross between “Desperate Housewives” and “24;” the hard-boiled 4-volume Georgia Davis PI series, and three stand-alone historical thrillers that Libby calls her “Revolution Trilogy.” Her latest release, The Incidental Spy, is a historical novella set during the early years of the Manhattan Project at the U of Chicago. Her short stories have been published in a dozen anthologies, the Saturday Evening Post, and Ed Gorman’s “25 Criminally Good Short Stories” collection.
More at http://libbyhellmann.com.
* She has been a finalist twice for the Anthony, twice for Foreword Magazines Book of the Year, the Agatha, the Shamus, the Daphne and has won the Lovey multiple times.
Early reviews for “Jump Cut”:
“Exceptional… As Hellman’s convincing, conflicted characters face impossible choices, the tension is real and memorable.”
—Publishers Weekly, starred review
“Hellmann’s writing sparkles…plenty of suspense in this richly detailed thriller, but Hellmann’s characteristic wit and warmth are evident, too.”
“From spies to drones and hackers, Jump Cut is a heart-stopping tale of corporate espionage that will have you snapping on your seatbelt. The tangled web of international intrigue is riveting. Hellmann is a renowned master of suspense, and her great talent shows in the story’s many rich characters, the beautifully honed paragraphs, and the sweep of her provocative story. A keeper!”
—Gayle Lynds, New York Times best-selling author of The Assassins
“With spooks, spies, sudden death and double-crosses, Jump Cut hits all the right notes for a top-notch action thriller. Once again Ellie Foreman is a thoroughly likeable real-world heroine, fiercely protective of those she loves, thrown in at the deep end and swimming for her life. Don’t miss it!”
—Zoë Sharp, author of the Charlie Fox series and The Blood Whisperer
“Welcome back Ellie Foreman! Jump Cut rockets to a stunning but thrilling climax… Another winner from the standout Chicago novelist Libby Hellmann.”
—Paul Levine, author of Bum Rap
“After a long hiatus, Hellmann returns to her Chicago-based sleuth with a chilling tale that may be all too close to the truth.”
Author of Compulsively Readable Thrillers
The Incidental Spy, Sept. 2015: http://www.amazon.com/Incidental-Spy-Libby-Fischer-Hellmann/dp/1938733843/
GIVEAWAY INFORMATION and RAFFLECOPTER CODE
Libby will be awarding $50 Amazon or B/N GC to a randomly drawn winner via rafflecopter during the tour.