Thursday 28 March 2019

Checking The Traps by Joan Livingston @JoanLivingston BLOG TOUR @rararesources #CheckingTheTraps #MyLifeInBooks

Isabel Long is a bit banged up from her last case with a broken collarbone and her arm in a sling. But that doesn’t stop her from pouring beer at the Rooster Bar or taking her third case with Gary Beaumont, a local drug dealer who once terrorized her. Gary is convinced his brother didn’t jump off a bridge known for suicides. Somebody pushed him.
Gary’s brother was a boozer who drove for a highway crew. But what interests Isabel and her ‘Watson’ — her 93-year-old mother who lives with her — is that the man wrote poetry.
The chief suspects are one of Gary’s business associates and a famous poet who plagiarized his brother’s poetry for an award-winning book. Yes, he was that good.
As a journalist, Isabel did regular meetups with her sources for stories. She called it checking the traps. She does the same as a private investigator, and this time, she’ll make sure she doesn’t get caught in one.

Checking The Traps by Joan Livingston was published in February 2019. As part of the Blog Tour, organised by Rachel from Rachel's Random Resources, I'm delighted to welcome the author here to Random Things today. She's talking about the books that are special to her, in My Life In Books.

My Life in Books - Joan Livingston

Before I became an author, I was a voracious reader beginning when I was a young girl. Through books I discovered worlds that were so different than my own sheltered childhood. I give thanks to my teachers and mostly my mother for inspiring me to read.

My mother didn’t grow up with the educational advantages I had. She loved school and wanted to be a nurse, but that was during the Great Depression. She was the daughter of immigrants from Madeira. Her father pulled her out of high school in her sophomore year to work in the textile mills of New Bedford, Massachusetts. She never realized that goal.

When it came to reading, my mother was a great role model. She took me once or twice a week to the town library to stock up on books. During the summer, a bookmobile came to the church parking lot at the bottom of our street, and she would ask me to bring back a stack of books.

She is nearly 95 and hasn’t stopped reading. And she inspired one of the characters in my Isabel Long Mystery Series. She is Isabel’s mother and sidekick.

Here is a summary of the books I feel influenced me as a reader and writer

WINNIE THE POOH SERIES  I was captivated by A.A. Milne’s books when my fourth-grade teacher, Irma Darwin, read them aloud to our class. Mrs. Darwin also encouraged me to write plays, which my classmates performed.

A TREE GROWS IN BROOKLYN   I was older when I found Betty Smith’s novel about the perseverance of a girl growing up in hardship. I was delighted as an adult to buy a first edition, a little beaten up, of this book, which exposed me to an experience far different than mine.

THE DIARY OF YOUNG GIRL   Anne Frank’s account was an eye-opener for me. As I read and reread this book, I felt I was inside that hiding place with this doomed young girl and her family

TO KILL A MOCKINGBIRD   I have read Harper Lee’s book several times. I even taught it to middle-school kids when I was a student teacher. This novel meets my standard for a great book: I was so immersed, I forgot I was reading.

INVISIBLE MAN  In college, I first encountered Black writers, including Ralph Ellison. When I had to give a presentation on the book for a course, I recorded my paper and pretended that I was delivering it as an invisible person. My point and also Ralph Ellison’s: who sees who we really are? Other authors I met are Richard Wright and James Baldwin.

PUBLIC LIBRARY: No, that’s not the name of a book. As an adult and a busy mother — I had six kids — I read whatever I could get my hands on in the public library where we lived. The authors included Henry Miller, F. Scott Fitzgerald, Gabriel Garcia Marquez, J.D. Salinger, the Bronte sisters, T.S. Eliot, Ken Kesey, oh, the list is exceedingly long. I would also throw in trashy Hollywood novels and non-fiction books.

SMALL TOWN BOOKS: This is a general topic. I have lived in very large cities, but my preference is very small ones, say around a thousand people.
A friend turned me onto the late Larry Brown, who wrote about the scratchier side to Mississippi in such books as Facing the Music.
Other small town books I cherish are: Annie Proulx’s The Shipping News 
Russell Banks’ The Sweet Hereafter  and Kent Haruf’s Plainsong

Their books inspired me to write what I observe — how people interact in very small towns — and then have my way with it. A lot of it’s good, some of it is bad. But all of it is made up.

Joan Livingston - March 2019 

Joan Livingston is the author of novels for adult and young readers. Checking the Traps, published by Crooked Cat Books, is the third in the mystery series featuring Isabel Long, a longtime journalist who becomes an amateur P.I. The first two are Chasing the Case and Redneck’s Revenge.
An award-winning journalist, she started as a reporter covering the hilltowns of Western Massachusetts. She was an editor, columnist, and the managing editor of The Taos News, which won numerous state and national awards during her tenure.
After eleven years in Northern New Mexico, she returned to rural Western Massachusetts, which is the setting of much of her adult fiction, including the Isabel Long mystery series.

Twitter: @joanlivingston 

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