1–What is the title of your latest release?
2–What’s the “elevator pitch” for your new book?
Whale Fall is a story of love and revenge by animals of the human and non-human kind.
In the heat of a lush Laurentian summer, Marie Russell and Detective Roméo Leduc are finally getting married, but the joyous occasion is overshadowed by the arrival of Magnus Sorenson, Marie’s first love. This celebrity eco-warrior is planning a dramatic protest against a local development project, but his actions have unexpected consequences. Roméo and Marie are forced to abandon their honeymoon and go on the hunt for a killer. Meanwhile, an elderly couple from the local seniors’ residences have gone missing, and Marie and Romeo are in a race to find them before it’s too late.
3–How did you decide where your book was going to take place?
Whale Fall is the third in my Russell and Leduc mystery series, and they are all set in Quebec. The Birds That Stay, my first book is set in a little town, Ste. Lucie, in the beautiful and ancient Laurentian hills north of Montreal during its most stunning season, the fall. The Dogs of Winter, # 2, is set in Montreal during a brutal winter. Whale Fall takes place during our hot and humid summer. The landscape my books are set in—geographical, historical, political and cultural are key ingredients. Place becomes a character, really. I live in both Ste. Lucie and Montreal, so I know both intimately.
4–Would you hang out with your protagonist in real life?
Marie Russell is a marine biologist turned college professor who has been through a lot in her life. She has experienced great loss, but has also enjoyed an unusual, eclectic life. I would absolutely hang out with Marie—she’s smart, she’s funny and is also a flawed person who struggles to navigate her life with integrity and humor. She loves to drink scotch, enjoys all food unapologetically and doesn’t suffer fools for very long. She also likes to disappear into the woods with her dog for hours at a time and just live in the moment.
5–What are three words that describe your protagonist?
Observant, curious and adventurous.
6–What’s something you learned while writing this book?
I learned so much about so many climate change issues--especially about what happens when whales get entangled in fishing lines, and what heroes those people are who work every day to save them and stop this from happening. I was dismayed to learn how we continue to jeopardize the life of our oceans, and therefore ourselves. I was reminded once again that there is no such thing as “Nature” and “Us”. We are one and the same.
7–Do you edit as you draft or wait until you are totally done?
I do both. I write one chapter at a time in its entirety, and then often read it to my husband. He is really my cheerleader because in the early stages I don’t need much critical feedback as I am great at criticizing myself! He might ask a question or two or point out if something is unclear. At the end of the day, I’ll go through the chapter a few times to tweak cliches or crappy writing, and then continue the next day. The big edit with my editor is after the first draft for me.
8–What’s your favorite foodie indulgence?
Fried zucchini flowers.
9–Describe your writing space/office!
If I am on a roll, I can write anywhere, really. But I usually work in my screened porch in Ste. Lucie—that is from May until November until it becomes too cold and snowy. There’s just a table and a few chairs in what feels like the middle of the forest, but I love listening to the sounds of that world around me. When I work indoors, it’s usually in a bedroom upstairs with a little table and chair by the window. All I really need is a good coffee and quiet.
10–Who is an author you admire?
Too many to name them all of course, but just a few of the ones who I feel changed my life were Kurt Vonnegut Jr., Margaret Laurence, Simone de Beauvoir, Tony Kushner and Toni Morrison. I love the Greek tragedies, and of the more recent writers I have enjoyed are Hilary Mantel, Elena Ferrante and Ann Cleeves. But I’m omitting so many!
11–Is there a book that changed your life? See above.
12–Tell us about when you got “the call.” (when you found out your book was going to be published)/Or, for indie authors, when you decided to self-publish.
I was 60 years old and just a crazy kid with a dream. I had submitted my first novel, and a few months later was visiting friends in Toronto (I live in Montreal). The managing editor from my Toronto publisher, Second Story Press, asked to meet me for coffee, but hadn’t disclosed whether they’d publish my book or not! I kept asking/telling my friends “There’s no way she’d ask to meet for coffee and NOT publish my book, is there?” They kept smiling and nodding encouragingly. When I finally sat across from her and sipped at my coffee, she waited a few minutes before she told me the good news. It was thrilling. Validating. Such a relief. And a little scary.
13–What’s your favorite genre to read?
I love Scandinavian noir mysteries. I love any fiction that tells a great story that also explores the broader political and social landscape. (I think my books do that!) I also read plays, because I have been a playwright for 40 years and have taught theatre for 32 years.
14–What’s your favorite movie?
There are so many I love and admire. In no order of preference: Casablanca, The Princess Bride, Seven Beauties, Call Me By Your Name, Monsieur Lazar, Incendies, Shakespeare In Love. I love great writing the most, and complex characters who break my heart.
15–What is your favorite season?
I love them all. Spring for that stirring under the snow when you can first taste and smell life returning. Summer for swimming in the lake and the lushness of heat and fertility. The fall for the change in the air, the return of school and a sense of collective purpose, the winter for the skiing which I do every day when I can, and the beauty of being inside and warm.
16–How do you like to celebrate your birthday?
With people, I love eating food I love around a big table where the conversation is crackling.
17–What’s a recent tv show/movie/book/podcast you highly recommend?
There’s so much terrific work! I really enjoyed Call My Agent for its combination of intelligence, humor, and heart. Dr. Foster for a kick-ass woman scorned script and Greek twist. Last Tango in Halifax is one of the finest series I’ve ever seen. And from Canada, Slings and Arrows—there is no better anywhere.
18–What’s your favorite type of cuisine?
I’d have to say Italian—anything where the ingredients are fresh, with lots of good tomatoes, herbs, cheese, and of course, red wine.
19–What do you do when you have free time?
Swim, ski, hike, birdwatch, read, do Wordle, and crosswords.
20–What can readers expect from you next?
I already have a story lurking in the shadows—probably book # 4 of Marie and Romeo back in the saddle again. There’s usually an urgent social issue or compelling idea I want to explore—something I want to know more about. Then I’m off. The research begins, and those first few tentative notes in blue pen, followed by a lot of question marks. It’s my favorite part of writing.
A Russell and Leduc Mystery , #3
Marie Russell and Detective Roméo Leduc are finally getting married, but the joyous occasion is overshadowed by the unexpected arrival of Magnus Sørenson, renowned eco-warrior and Marie’s first great love. When Magnus’ plans for a dramatic environmental protest take a dark turn, Roméo and Marie are forced to abandon their honeymoon in the Laurentians in order to catch a killer, unearthing long-buried secrets along the way. Fast-paced and chilling, Whale Fall is a riveting tale of love, vengeance, and climate justice.
Mystery Woman Sleuth | Thriller Crime [Author Self-Published, On Sale: September 20, 2022, Paperback, ISBN: 9781772602685 / ]
Ann Lambert has been writing and directing for the stage for thirty-five years. Several of her plays, including The Wall, Parallel Lines, Very Heaven, The Mary Project and Two Short Women have been performed in theatres in Canada, the United States, Europe and Australia. She has been a teacher of English literature at Dawson College for almost twenty-eight years in Montreal, Quebec, where she makes her home.
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