Steve Hockensmith is here today to tell us about Give the Devil His Due
, a book he co-wrote with Lisa Falco. He’s a funny guy,
and it is reflected in this new cozy mystery about tarot card reading, con men and the White Magic Five and Dime. He was kind enough to answer a few questions about his newest cozy mystery. After the interview check out my review and then find the Prize Guy to enter the giveaway for a print copy of this book!
Have you ever had your tarot cards read? If you did were you surprised by the result?
I’ve had my cards read several times over the years. The biggest surprise came when I encountered a reader who wasn’t full of it. That reader: Lisa Falco, who co-created the “tarot mystery” series with me. Before Lisa, I’d done readings as an occasional lark, and the results had never been impressive. Sometimes the reader was a flat-out cold-eyed con artist. (“The woman in your life…she isn’t true to you. You need to come back for a special reading. I can help you.”) Sometimes the reader was simply full of baloney. (“I see you running through the jungle with a war club in your hand. You were a barbarian warrior in a past life…and you’re still a strong, rough, dominant man today.” Uhh, no. That’s why I let my girlfriend talk me into coming in here.) Lisa is an old friend, and I’d known her for years before I discovered she read tarot cards. I don’t remember what exactly she told me the first time she did a reading for me, but I remember my response: “Wow! This isn’t all horse@$%# after all!” Her readings have always been insightful, helpful and even, yes, prophetic. I’m not a believer in the supernatural, but yowza – sometimes the things Lisa sees makes me wonder. So when she said, “I’m thinking of doing a book about a tarot reader who helps her clients through the cards,” I had no hesitation about saying, “Make it a mystery, and we’ll do it together!”
Is Give the Devil His Due a mystery that can stand alone or is it better for readers to read the other books in the series first?
It can definitely be read on its own, but I’ll be honest: It’s probably best to read the other two books first. (Hear that strange, haunting, distant sound? That’s the publisher’s publicist screaming.) In Give the Devil His Due, our hero, Alanis, has to face something from her past that we’ve only hinted at in the other novels. You can jump right in and not be confused at all, but to fully appreciate her reaction you might want to get to know her a bit more first.
Have you published short stories in magazines?
I started out writing stories for Alfred Hitchcock Mystery Magazine and Ellery Queen Mystery Magazine. I saw it as an apprenticeship. Before I tried to write a novel, I wanted to make my bones working on things that wouldn’t be such a daunting commitment. Cuz short stories are, you know, short. It worked out really well. All the crap I had to write to learn what the heck I was doing only took a couple years. Then once I was actually writing good stuff, it started selling, and that gave me the confidence I needed to write a novel. Which wasn’t very good. So I went back to short stories, wrote one that seemed like a good set-up for a series, and was inspired to try another novel. That one got published – it’s called Holmes on the Range – and I’ve been doing books ever since. I still write the occasional short story for Alfred Hitchcock and Ellery Queen, though. In fact, I’ll be in both in the next few months. And I’ve put out some collections of my short fiction, too. But don’t worry: I left out the crap.
What is your favorite character or scene in Give the Devil His Due?
I love breaking up the format of the traditional mystery story. Anytime I can throw in something that’s a little different, a little funny, a little surprising, it makes the writing more fun for me. In Give the Devil His Due, an eccentric German music mogul becomes important to the plot – he’s sort of a nutty, Teutonic Richard Branson – so our heroes look him up on Wikipedia. All they see is the Contents list for his page, but that’s enough to give you his biography and a sense of who he is. What the heck – here it is:
1 Early life
2.1 Ice cream truck
2.2 Sonntagnachmittagunwholsein Records
2.3 “Einhundertein Schokoladenhasen (101 Chocolate Bunnies)”
2.5 Multimedia empire
2.6 Other business ventures
2.7 Dagegengeld implosion and lawsuit
3 World record attempts
3.3 Deep-sea diving
3.5 Hot dog eating
5 Controversies and criticism
5.1 Mother Teresa feud
5.2 Vatican streaking incident
5.3 Art and relics collection
5.4 Dalai Lama headbutt
6 Honours and awards
7 Personal life
7.2 Palimony suits
7.3 Paternity suits
7.4 Vow of celibacy
What are you writing now?
I wrote five novels in my Holmes on the Range historical mystery series a while back, and for a long time I’ve wanted to revisit those characters. So that’s what I’m doing right now. I put out a collection of Holmes on the Range short stories that’s sold really well over the years, so I’m going to see how it goes with a novel. After that I’ll probably write some more short stories and then see what kind of mood I’m in. I have a lot of ideas – enough to keep me writing for the next 50 years. We’ll see if I get to them all….
My Review- 5 Stars
Come to the White Magic Five and Dime and find out what is in your future. Not a believer? So many of these people are simply scam artists so how can this one be any different? Alanis McLachlan’s mother was one of those scammers who operated with a con artist named Biddle. When she dies, Alanis inherits the store and when Biddle shows up after being out of the picture for decades she knows there is a con afoot. He is looking for an old painting of Elvis her mother used to own. It turns out several people are looking for the king. This is a funny mystery filled with con men, an investigative reporter, mafia types, old ladies with uzis, a pony-tailed German man, and a touch of the occult. The story has good pacing and leans toward the suspense/caper side. I enjoyed Give the Devil His Due and look forward to more adventures in the world of tarot card reading. Oh, a handy tip I picked up from the book–Never use Google maps if you’re planning on rescuing someone!
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