Thanks for following our tour! To celebrate our release, we’re giving away an awesome prize – an ebook copy of a novel of your choice from either of our back catalogs. We’re also giving away a $20 Riptide gift voucher, and the contents of Henry Page’s bag during his arrest in THE TWO GENTLEMEN OF ALTONA: that’s some Shakespeare and a bunch of Henry’s favorite candy!
All you have to do is leave a comment on this post with a way for us to contact you, be it your email, your twitter, or a link to your facebook or goodreads account. Please put your email in the body of the comment, not just in email section of the comment form, because we won’t be able to see it otherwise! OnJanuary 9, we’ll draw a winner from all eligible comments! Be sure to follow the whole tour, because the more comments you leave, the more chances you have to win the prize!
We are very happy to welcome Lisa Henry and J.A. Rock to the Smoocher’s Voice blog today. Their most recent novel The Two Gentlemen of Altona, is available at Riptide Publishing. This is the first novel in the Playing the Fool series.
Lisa likes to tell stories, mostly with hot guys and happily ever afters. Lisa lives in tropical North Queensland, Australia. She doesn’t know why, because she hates the heat, but she suspects she’s too lazy to move. She spends half her time slaving away as a government minion, and the other half plotting her escape.
She attended university at sixteen, not because she was a child prodigy or anything, but because of a mix-up between international school systems early in life. She studied History and English, neither of them very thoroughly.
She shares her house with too many cats, a green tree frog that swims in the toilet, and as many possums as can break in every night. This is not how she imagined life as a grown-up.
Connect with Lisa:
J.A. Rock has worked as a dog groomer, knife seller, haunted house zombie, standardized patient, census taker, state fair quilt hanger, and, for one less-than-magical evening, a server—and would much rather be writing about those jobs than doing them. J.A. currently lives in Chicago but still sees West Virginia behind Illinois’s back.
Jodi: Thank you, Lisa and J.A. for taking the time to answer some questions for our readers. The Two Gentlemen of Altona is the first book in a three book series. What are some of the challenges in writing a series, based on a mystery?
Lisa: Thanks for having me! I also brought J.A. along as well. :)
J.A.: *waves* PLAYING THE FOOL is the first time we plotted something out. I mean got down and dirty, broke out the character charts, did scene by scene outlines, and planned, not just the individual mysteries, but one overarching mystery. Lisa and I always talk about how disorganized we are, and we’re not fucking around. Every day I ask myself the same question: “Where are my car keys?” And the answer is always something new and absurd, like “under the bathmat” or “tangled in my hair” or “in the car, which is parked three blocks away and still running.”
I still can’t believe we managed to plan this series in advance.
Jodi: What inspired this series?
Lisa: This book is our very weird homage to both Shakespeare and every single movie ever where two guys, one a by-the-book cop and the other a loose cannon, have to work together to solve the crime. Bullets and banter. Basically, we wanted to have fun with it.
Jodi: Are you both Shakespeare fans? Tell us a little about the Shakespeare influence and allusions.
Lisa: We both love Shakespeare. And, really, what’s not to love? Whether you’re in the mood for a fun story with a lot of dirty jokes, or something that will make you howl, Shakespeare has you covered.
JA: Absolutely. I enjoy Shakespeare’s comedies, but probably have an unhealthy fixation on Shakespearean bloodshed. He knew how to make the most violent stories absolutely beautiful. And genuinely tragic. Even one of my least favorite Shakespeare plays, All’s Well That Ends Well, has the line, “Whose baser stars do shut us up in wishes” to describe being too poor to marry the guy you love. It’s like, come on, asshole. Quit being a linguistic genius and save some talent for the rest of us. Am I allowed to call Shakespeare an asshole?
So yes, in PtF, we do a bit of alluding. Henry’s aliases are combos of Shakespeare character names. His mother was an actress and a Shakespeare fan. We play with ideas like fate, fatal flaws, courage versus cowardice...and include enough penis jokes to make Willy Shakes proud, we hope.
Jodi: I have that same fixation, J.A.
Lisa, in your last interview with me, you mentioned that you and J.A. Rock share a “hive mind.” Can you elaborate on what you mean? Have you written any books with J.A. Rock before? What prompted the partnership?
Lisa: It is absolutely terrifying how in synch J.A. and I are. And not just about our shared love for cheap wine. It is incredibly easy to write with J.A. because we like to tell the same sort of stories, and we like to write the same sort of characters. We first started writing together because we’d been emailing for a while—her first book came out from Loose Id at the same time my second one did—and she asked if I wanted to write with her. And I said yes. I don’t think that we’d thought it through any more deeply than that – which is another thing we have in common. We are never in danger of overthinking things.
The first book we wrote together was The Good Boy, back in 2013. Since then we've written ten more together, from the kinky fun of Mark Cooper versus America, to the quite dark (and one of our favourites!) When All the World Sleeps.
J.A.: Lisa doesn’t know it yet, but the dreams she has are my dreams too. And one day we shall merge into one perfect, extremely drunk being. We shall be called Oerythu, and we shall answer to the Star Lord.
Lisa: But I wanted to be Groot.
J.A.: Oh my god, I didn’t realize the Star Lord was an actual thing. Okay, one day I will watch GotG, I promise.
Jodi: Ahem … I am looking forward to seeing that merger.
Special Agent Ryan “Mac” McGuinness is a hard core cop who is not happy about being played by his witness and Dean Maxfield. He also is not happy about his new diet, which, of course, causes him more stress. Tell us a bit about Mac’s character.
Lisa: Oh, I have a total soft spot for Mac. He’s quitting sugar and caffeine, which makes him cranky enough even before he meets Henry. And Henry does not help. At all. Mac prides himself on being good at his job, and he hates that Henry makes him look like a fool. Mac doesn’t have a great relationship with his colleagues, but it’s Henry that makes him see that, and makes him try to change.
Jodi: The characters in this story are interesting and well developed. The conversations between Mac and Henry are full of heat and humor from the beginning. The intensity of the situation intertwined with the humor is very engaging. Why is Henry so flippant when first talking to Mac?
Lisa: Flippant is Henry’s default setting. Also, once he realizes how much it annoys Mac, he can’t stop doing it.
JA: Mac’s so easy to wind up. Plus, Henry’s got a lot to hide. So a lot of his flippancy is smoke and mirrors, to get people away from the truth.
Jodi: Why does Henry purposely rile up Mac? He seems to want Mac to be angry and yelling at him.
Lisa: He loves it!
JA: Totally! Henry’s like a little kid--better negative attention than none at all.
Jodi: Behind Henry’s bravado lies an insecure and scared young man. Tell us a bit about Henry.
Lisa: Henry does what he does because he’s good at it, and it makes money. He probably lies to himself just as much as he lies to other people. He pretends he can cruise through life with just a smile, but spinning a different lie every day to make money where he can isn't exactly a fulfilling existence. Henry pretends he’s unaffected by the things he does, and the way guys like Mac think he’s the scum of the earth for doing it, but he’s not. I think he probably wishes he was a better person, but that’s a luxury he literally can’t afford. He needs the money, and conning is pretty much all he knows.
Jodi: Mac comes across as a hard-ass cop, but under that layer is a caring man who does empathize with Henry. Henry seems to think it is about his new costume, but there is more to it than that. What makes Mac change his mind about Henry?
Lisa: Mac sees that underneath all his backchat Henry is genuinely terrified, and he responds to that. A lot of what he thinks about Henry--that he’s a kid playing a game that suddenly got too big for him--is absolutely spot on. Mac might be cranky and cynical but, when it comes down to it, he wouldn’t be in the job he’s in if he didn’t genuinely want to help people. And the more glimpses he gets of the genuine Henry behind the mask, the more he’s drawn in.
Jodi: There are a lot of unanswered questions in this first book. Will the second book pick up right where the first one ends?
Lisa: It picks up exactly where the first book ends. Like, only a matter of minutes afterwards!
Jodi: Have we heard the last of Dean Maxfield?
Lisa: Oh, Henry and Mac have more to worry about than Dean Maxfield! But...
J.A.: We’ll never tell!
Jodi: Can you give us a sneak peak of what will be in book two? Will we find out who Viola is and what happened to Remy?
Lisa: Absolutely! Without giving too much away, we learn a lot more about Henry’s past, and how it’s shaped him as a person. In particular, one traumatic event that’s made Henry into the man he is. And we learn more about Henry and Remy’s shared past, and how Henry easily could have turned out like Remy if he’d made slightly different decisions. Also, Henry infiltrates a care facility dressed in drag, which is exactly as fun as it sounds.
Jodi: What is your next project after this series?
Lisa: I’m still working away, very slowly, at the sequel to Dark Space. I’m also writing a story with the awesome M. Caspian that’s taking shape in lots of interesting ways right now. But I totally need to plug J.A.’s next book, since I was lucky enough to read an early draft. It’s called Take the Long Way Home, and it’s out Jan 20 from Loose Id. It’s so wonderful. Read it!
J.A.: More Dark Space!! (Hey, are you still looking for a title? Because you’re welcome.)
Together we’re working on another book in THE BOY series and a third book in the PRESCOTT COLLEGE series. And discussing some new ideas that will let us explore subgenres we haven’t tackled yet.
The Two Gentlemen of Altona
Mischief, thou art afoot.
Special Agent Ryan “Mac” McGuinness is having a rough week. Not only is he on a new diet, but he’s also been tasked with keeping Henry Page—the world’s most irritating witness—alive. Which is tough when Mac’s a breath away from killing the Shakespeare-quoting, ethically-challenged, egg-obsessed Henry himself. Unless killing isn’t really what Mac wants to do to him.
Con man Henry Page prefers to keep his distance from the law . . . though he wouldn’t mind getting a little closer to uptight, handsome Agent McGuinness. As the sole witness to a mob hit, Henry’s a valuable asset to the FBI. But he’s got his own agenda, and it doesn’t involve testifying.
When evidence surfaces of a mole in the FBI office, Mac and Henry are forced to go into hiding. Holed up in a fishing cabin, they’re surprised to discover that their feelings run more than skin deep. But as the mob closes in, Henry has to make his escape. And Mac has to decide how far he’s willing to go to keep Henry by his side.