Spotlight & Excerpt: Theft Between the Rains + Author Interview & Giveaway

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Theft Between the Rains
by Luba Lesychyn
Genre: International Art Theft Mystery

What would you do if you worked at a reputable international museum and art works listed as still missing since WWII began showing up on your doorstep?

That’s the substance of the newest urban art theft thriller Theft Between the Rains by Luba Lesychyn.

Drawing on her more than 20 years at Canada’s largest museum, Luba reintroduces many of the affable and quirky characters from the prequel, Theft By Chocolate. Also resurrected is the malicious art thief who has been on the world’s most wanted criminal list for decades.

Theft Between the Rains takes readers behind the scenes at museums and to parts unknown of Toronto. And with water being a character unto its own, Luba uses both humor and thriller elements to weave a page-turning story while simultaneously illustrating how changing weather patterns and flash flooding are impacting metropolitan centers globally.

Excerpt:

“We are coming to yet another fascinating area of the facility. And it is one of the more recent additions to the building,” said Walter.

“Holeeeeeeeee,” said Marco. “This is straight out of some Sci Fi B movie.”

“It is something,” said Walter.

Before us were shelves full of jars – large jars, small jars, roundish jars, square jars – all containing clear liquid and specimens of every conceivable sort. I turned on my phone’s flashlight app, and the illuminated sight before me was truly haunting. Hundreds, probably thousands of fish, sea life, and land creatures floated lifelessly in their ghostly containers. Those whose bodies were turned in our direction seemed to be staring directly at us with beady eyes.

“All of these specimens are suspended in alcohol. If ever there was anything you wanted to learn about aquatic creatures, this is certainly the place to do so. Everything is organized by genus and species. They are whole specimens, and they have been stained to feature various elements. As you can see, the fish turn translucent when preserved, but with the dyes, one can make out the nervous or circulatory systems, for example.”

“Cool,” said Marco.

“I seem to recall we had no choice but to move all this off site?” I said.

“Yes, indeed. Because of their extraordinary weight, they cannot be stored on upper levels without adding costly structural supports. At the same time, if they’re stored below grade, there’s a heightened risk of explosion.”

Author Interview:

☂️ Tell us a little about how this story first came to be. Did it start with an image, a voice, a concept, a dilemma or something else?

When I wrote my first book, Theft By Chocolate, about a woman looking for chocolate, love and an international art thief in all the wrong places, I never intended it be anything more than a stand-alone story. Just in case, I had left a few plot points open-ended and when my readers kept nudging me about a sequel, some inspiration for Theft Between the Rains came from a couple of documentary films.

When I saw Lost Rivers, a film about how cities have undergrounded their urban rivers and streams and use them as part of their sewage systems, I was reminded of the fact that the Royal Ontario Museum, the setting of my first book (and an institution where I had worked for more than 20 years), is situated above a well-known creek.

Subsequently, after viewing the documentary The Rape of Europa, about the plunder of art during World War II, I had an epiphany. I came up with the notion about what my lead character, Kalena Boyko, would do if art work listed as still missing since World War II started showing up on her doorstep. I then started to create various scenes that would tie the story to lost river settings in the city of Toronto and decided to use water and storms as the primary motif throughout the book.

☂️ What, if anything, did you learn when writing the book?

Much of my research involved going on the Toronto Green Community’s Lost Rivers walking tours and on ROMWalks, guided city walking tours led by volunteers of the Royal Ontario Museum. I grew up outside of Toronto, so I learned so much about the city’s captivating local history. And while researching art work stolen during World War II, I couldn’t believe the amount of pillaging that had taken place not just by the Nazis, but by Allied forces as well.

☂️ What surprised you the most in writing it?

It was unfathomable to me to learn that there is still approximately $37 billion worth of treasures and various forms of loot confiscated and stolen during WW II that is still hidden around Europe, including $93 million in silver and jewelry hidden somewhere in the hills surrounding the castle of Wewelsburg in northeast Germany and $100 million in gold apparently dumped in Lake Walchen near Munich.

☂️ What does the title mean?

I wanted to keep the word “theft” in the title to link it to the first book and hint at the book’s subject matter about art theft. And because so much of the story in Theft Between the Rains involves rain storms in some shape or form, whether getting caught in a storm or escaping a storm, I thought it would be a fitting title. It’s one of those titles that makes more sense once you’ve read the book.

☂️ Were any of the characters inspired by real people? If so, do they know?

Most definitely, and mostly yes. I was inspired by many of the loveable and eccentric people I worked with at the Royal Ontario Museum and I have talked to most of the people who inspired specific characters. Other characters are drawn from people that I might have known much more casually, like the museum security guard Marco who was inspired by a former neighbor with whom I lost touch years ago. And the drainer Benny or Benedetta (an intrepid subterranean explorer and keeper of buried rivers) was inspired by a good friend of mine who is a natural beauty and great at just about everything she does – I think the friend was both touched and flattered when I told her she was my muse for the character.

☂️ Do you consider the book to have a lesson or moral?

I seem to become more of an activist the older I get and I wanted to use the story to raise awareness about many different topics including climate change, daylighting urban waterways and separating them from sewage processing, and restoring buried rivers to their original purpose thereby benefitting generations to come.

In my home base of Toronto, we are seeing urban flooding like never before and, besides the fact that we are experiencing super storms due to our warming climate, we have paved over green spaces and waterways that once used to carry excess water to Lake Ontario. It’s a common phenomenon in metropolitan areas around the world and I wanted to bring attention to it because daylighting these water systems could help reduce this kind of flash flooding. As is evident, the messaging in my book comes from a place of environmentalism.

☂️ What is your favorite part of the book?

There’s a scene that takes place at an iconic water treatment plant in Toronto that was built in the 1930s. It’s a huge compound of buff brick, stylized frescoes, and arching windows, and it’s hard to fathom that this gorgeous Art Deco building is a fully functioning water filtration plant that provides Toronto with almost half of its water supply. It was a pleasure describing it in the book but, in terms of the plot, I was able to build in a lot of tension as well as humor.
I have to add that one of the final scenes in a ghost subway station (a station built in downtown Toronto that was decommissioned soon after it opened) is also close to my heart, again, for the thriller elements I was able to incorporate into the story.

☂️ Which character was most challenging to create? Why?

I had introduced Walter, the museum librarian, in the first book as a secondary character, but he plays a much bigger role in Theft Between the Rains. He is a walking encyclopedia and knows everything about a lot of things. So, I used him to bring out the history or background about places, people, and objects. But it was tricky trying to determine when his descriptions sounded false or inauthentic. I personally know people who are like that, but I wasn’t sure if most readers would buy into his character.

☂️ What are your immediate future plans?

I just recently started a new book that is quite different from the first two. It still falls into the mystery genre and is set in the world of museums, but it’s a paranormal tale about souls that meet in more than one lifetime. I’m also developing a work that will be a memoir/fiction blend about my family’s experiences as first-generation Canadians. And finally, I will soon be launching a blog series about memory and isolation inspired by the current world circumstances.

 

Author Bio and Links:

Luba Lesychyn is a popular Toronto-based mystery writer, a graduate of the Humber School for Writers, and a respected author in the library readings and events circuit.

In her two books, she draws from her more than 20 years of work experiences at the Royal Ontario Museum (Canada’s largest museum), and her time working for a private museum consulting firm to write humorous, international art theft thrillers featuring amateur sleuth Kalena Boyko. Her newest book, Theft Between the Rains, is a sequel to Theft By Chocolate (about a woman looking for chocolate, love and an international art thief in all the wrong places) published in 2012 by Attica Books and launched in Canada and the UK.

Luba currently spends her time writing and virtually touring Theft Between the Rains in which lead character Kalena Boyko returns to find herself pulled into international art theft intrigue when masterpieces missing since WWII start appearing on her doorstep.

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Giveaway:

Luba Lesychyn will be awarding a print copy of Theft Between the Rains to a randomly drawn winner (US or Canada ONLY) via rafflecopter during the tour.

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Book Blitz & Excerpt – Sin City Wolf: Howl + Giveaway

Sin City Wolf Howl

This post is part of a virtual book tour organized by Goddess Fish Promotions. January Bain will be awarding a $30 Amazon or Barnes and Noble GC to a randomly drawn winner via rafflecopter during the tour.

Sin City Wolf: Howl
by January Bain
Genre: Billionaire Werewolf Romance

Never get between a wolf and his mate…

Billionaire. Casino owner. Tall, dark and deadly. Cristaldo Luceres is a potent force and a dangerous wolf to cross. Head of the House of Luceres, he’s used to fighting—literally—off any threat from rival houses. Wealth and women are his, but the one thing missing from his life is his mate.

Cristaldo’s on full alert when trouble comes to town in the beautiful shape of one Miss Everly Affini. The talented musician won a shot to play at the coveted Nero’s in Cristaldo’s Glittering Palace… and she could be the one, Cristaldo’s Forever Mate.

One problem is that she doesn’t think so—and isn’t shy about telling him—and another is that Rocco, an enforcer for the House of Ribelle, the Luceres’ sworn enemies, thinks she’s destined for him. Oh, and it’s the most powerful Super Blood Wolf Moon of the century, meaning chaos is unleashed.

Too bad. Once Cristaldo has a scent of his Forever Mate, he’ll fight for her…to the death if necessary. Everly doesn’t stand a chance.

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Read an Excerpt

Cristaldo

As Everly lost herself on stage, I clenched my hands into fists, claws digging into my palms. I fought the urge to transform, making the air around me shimmer in alarm. My eyes burned with the desire that would turn them incandescent and expose my wolf. Che diavolo sta succedendo? Never had I been affected like this. An alpha male always in control, was what I prided myself on being.

I couldn’t wait until after the concert, though the group had just begun their set. It had to happen now. My skin rippled visibly with the need. The only way to bring back control was to give in to the wolf. I left the auditorium and took the flight of stairs from the penthouse leading to the rooftop and my favorite toy, a Bell-Boeing 609 Tilt-Rotor straight from the factory in France. I jumped in behind the controls and set a course for our nearest compound in the desert. Ten minutes to freedom.

No sooner had I landed the helicopter—and with the blades still rotating—than I was out and running. Mid-stride, I entered another realm, a parallel existence, invisible from Earth, and my body underwent the change. On the other side, through the shimmering portal, the sensation deepened until all my cells had transformed, aligned in a new form. Then I was back in the present, a wolf. The world had mutated to an array of colors unknown to the human eye, blacks and browns and grays with subtle shadings that my brain converted to what my human side saw—blues and greens, yellow and reds. I breathed in deeply, my olfactory nerves sharpened by the cool, dry air of the desert at night. The odor of dust among the cactus, scrub and clumps of grass filled my nostrils.

I picked up the scent of fast game and gave chase. Bounding along, the wind to my back, twisting and turning as I easily followed my prey, I savored the strength of the wolf. My large paws ate up the distance, the shadows of the Joshua trees familiar forms mimicking humans and moving past me at lightning speed as I continued my pursuit.

The scent of fear ahead span my brain out of control. My prey knew I was close. I redoubled my efforts, imagining the takedown. The satisfaction. Then the creature found his burrow all of a sudden and went to ground. No matter. I streaked by the spot, needing the run far more than the catch.

The dry land slapped against my paws and the wind sliced across my muzzle. Time had no meaning in the desert. The longer I ran, the lighter I felt. Expending such energy increased my strength, mile by mile, each muscle quivering with adrenaline.

A new scent drew my attention. Wolf. I swung my massive head to the east. The interloper was not of the Luceres pack. My brain sharpened and the thrill of the chase intensified. I covered ground quickly, totally focused on the enemy. I needed this, to show the curs their place.

I raced to the farthest section of my land and confronted the Ribelle dog. My fur rose as my tail bushed out behind me. He was hellbent on getting away, circling back and forth like a prisoner in a cell, preferring to cross over the electric fence rather than face me. I snarled my disdain at finding the coward trying so desperately to escape.

About the Author:

January Bain has wished on every falling star, every blown-out birthday candle, and every coin thrown in a fountain to be a storyteller. To share the tales of high adventure, mysteries, and full-blown thrillers she has dreamed of all her life. The story you now have in your hands is the compilation of a lot of things manifesting itself for this special series. Hundreds of hours spent researching the unusual and the mundane have come together to create books that features strong women who live life to the fullest, wild adventures full of twists and unforeseen turns, and hot complicated men who aren’t afraid to take risks. She can only hope her stories will capture your imagination.

If you are looking for January Bain, you can find her hard at work every morning without fail in her office with her furry baby, Ling Ling. And, of course, she’s married to the most romantic man! Who once famously remarked to her inquiry about buying fresh flowers for their home every week, “Give me one good reason why not?” Leaving her speechless and knocking her head against the proverbial wall for being so darn foolish. She loves flowers.

If you wish to connect in the virtual world she is easily found on Facebook. Oh, and she loves to talk books…

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Spotlight & Excerpt: Piper’s Song + Author Interview & Giveaway

Piper's Song

BookCover_pipers song

Piper’s Song
Alpha Academy, #2
by Sara E. Tall
Genre: Young Adult Fantasy

Billie thinks stopping her fellow students from committing murder and almost getting kicked out of the Realm is as bad as it gets, but she should know better.  Not only are seven of the most powerful students out for her blood, but Sedna —her former enemy turned ally— turns her enemy again when Billie refuses a part in her revenge scheme.  What’s more, Alpha Administration’s refusal to address the injustice in their school is sparking a full-on rebellion, and a lot of innocents are going to be caught in the crosshairs. It isn’t just the school either, the Realm itself is overrun with violence and hatred, which will have deadly consequences. Lucian, her self-imposed magical guru, insists Billie’s extraordinary magic is the key to stopping the flood of violence coming their way.  Billie knows her magic is extraordinary, but she also knows its destructive power. It might do more harm than good.

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Excerpt:

Nothing said, “I’m sorry,” like a scalding hot iron mallet to the face. Especially when you were a Faerie, and allergic to Iron. Saranya and her friends really knew how to make a girl feel special.

At least, we heard they were going to attack me with a mallet, it was hard to keep up with all of Saranya’s schemes to get revenge on me for preventing her from torturing another student. The nerve of me.

I tightened my grip on the empowered soap Iris, my roommate, had given me. It paid to be friends with an Elf, I’d learned, as they possessed the ability to infuse magical properties into a variety of house-hold objects. And all she ever wanted in return was my help getting books down from her top bookshelf.

“Uhh, Billie,” Thea, my other roommate, said. “Perhaps it would be in your best interests to not look so tense? We are supposed to be discussing a class project, after all.”

I loosened my grip on the soap and gave her a quick smile. Thea was terrified of Saranya and the others, but that hadn’t stopped her and Iris from telling me about their plan, or offering to help me thwart it. She had a lot to lose, too. As a Wizard, she had a certain image to keep up, and helping a Misfit against other Wizards would do nothing good for that image.

Author Interview:

Tell us a little about how this story first came to be. Did it start with an image, a voice, a concept, a dilemma or something else?

I guess you could say my original concept for the Alpha Academy series was “mean girls with magic.” And I like to think I delivered on that premise. Since Piper’s Song is the second book in the series, it deals with another theme I really wanted to explore, “Deception, Manipulation, and the seduction of revenge.” Billie is heavily plagued by all of these in Piper’s Song.

What, if anything, did you learn when writing the book?

I brought in a lot of mythology, so it was incredibly exciting to revisit some of my favorite myths as well as discover some new ones. While I relied a lot on Greek/Roman, I was also able to explore Norse, Celtic, Aztec, Chinese, Persian, and a myriad of other lesser known, but equally fascinating mythologies.

This book also let me really explore first love and heartbreak, which are two things I don’t think anyone fully understands, but that impact us all so much anyway

What surprised you the most in writing it?

There were definitely some characters who I thought had certain arcs or motivations, but they did a 180 on me halfway through the book and became completely different people. Some for the better, some for the worse, but they were all incredibly fascinating discoveries.

My villain also really surprised me. I kept trying to write them as sadistic and cold, but they surprised me with how much pain, passion, and even guilt they weaved into their story. That discovery of who my villain really was has reshaped the entire series.

What does the title mean?

In addition to myths, I like to draw on folklore and fables as inspiration for my magical world. The Pied Piper is pretty familiar story. When a town fails to head their promise to the magical pied piper, he gets his revenge by leading all their children to their watery deaths.

Were any of the characters inspired by real people? If so, do they know?

I wouldn’t say any of them were inspired by real people. I do think I drew on elements of one of my exes for one of them, but in that case, this person does not know.

Do you consider the book to have a lesson or moral?

I try not to be preachy in my fiction, but I do think we write and read fiction to explore and understand difficult situations or dilemmas. A lot of stories have “happily ever afters” because we want to see these moral dilemmas worked out in a positive way, because it gives us hope as we deal with these problems in the real world. Billie grew a lot as a character throughout the book, and she learned a lot about forgiveness, acceptance, and where true power comes from. I know I learned a lot from her journey, and I hope my readers feel inspired by her story as well.

What is your favorite part of the book?

That’s a hard question, as there were a lot of parts I absolutely loved to write. There’s a chapter near the end called, “The Revelation,” that was probably the most exciting, albeit difficult part to get right. It was worth all the extra revisions though. It’s the chapter where Piper’s Song earns its title.

Which character was most challenging to create? Why?

Lucian, Billie’s friend and mentor, has always been a difficult character for me to write, in part because it has taken me a while to really understand him. While my other characters will let me flop around as I figure them out, Lucian likes to be written correctly in the first draft, and he’s not patient with the mistakes I make with him. He’s lucky he’s my favorite or I might not put up with him.

What are your immediate future plans?

The third book of Alpha Academy, Queen’s Fall, will be released this fall. I also have another couple novels in the works, and I will be returning to in Yellowstone National Park this summer. So I would say good things are ahead.

 

Author Informarion:

Sara’s enjoyed creating fantastic stories since she was old enough to hold a play sword, around the time she learned how to walk. Gradually she learned to direct her creative energy into writing, and it’s been a downward spiral ever since then. When she’s not writing she’s probably either dancing or reading batman comics. She also loves running away to the mountains of Utah and Montana. Nothing gets more fantastic that those views.

Sara E. Tall

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GIVEAWAY INFORMATION:

Sara E. Tall will be awarding a $15 Amazon or Barnes and Noble GC to a randomly drawn winner via rafflecopter during the tour.

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