Earlier in the year, I was shopping at the Mystery Bookstore and when I picked up Rebecca Cantrell's debut novel, A TRACE OF SMOKE, store manager Bobby McCue said "Oh, that book is so good." As usual, he was right.
In A TRACE OF SMOKE, it's 1931 and Berlin crime reporter Hannah Vogel recognizes a photo of her brother Ernst in the Hall of the Unnamed Dead at the police station. The novel follows Hannah as she searches for Ernst's killer, uncovering the dark secrets of some of the highest ranking members of the rising Nazi party.
It's a haunting novel that transports you to a place that is on the cusp of one of the most evil periods in human history. Hannah Vogel is strong, yet vulnerable, and seeing this world through her eyes makes it that much more powerful.
Rebecca's second novel, A LONG NIGHT OF KNIVES, the sequel to A TRACE OF SMOKE, was released in June 2010 and October 2010 saw the release of IDRAKULA (writing as Bekka Black), a cell phone novel based on Bram Stoker's DRACULA.
I downloaded IDRAKULA as soon as it became available on the iPhone and found it to be an engaging and fun experience. It's the perfect antidote to that long train commute or a wait in the doctor's office.
In spite of her busy schedule, Rebecca took a moment to answer some of my questions:
1) IDRAKULA was released earlier this year. It's formatted very differently than a traditional novel–was writing it more or less difficult than writing your Hannah Vogel novels?
Writing IDRAKULA was less intense, since I don't have to do the same kind of research and I know that no actual teenagers or vampires were harmed in the world where the novel is set. It was a stretch trying to tell an complicated story using only media found on a phone, but that's the kind of writing challenge that I love.
2) What's your next project, and when will it be released?
My next project is A GAME OF LIES. It's the next book in the Hannah Vogel mystery series and it's set during the Berlin Olympics in 1936. It will be released July 5, 2011.
3) What trait(s) do you share with Hannah Vogel?
Hannah and I have a strong hatred of injustice. It's a dangerous trait. Hannah obviously indulges hers more strongly than I do.
4) What is your ideal meal, beverage included?
This one's tough as I adore food in many forms. Today I'd say Rouladen (a kind of German stuffed and rolled steak) with potato dumplings and red cabbage and fresh raspberries with whipped cream for dessert with a strong Earl Grey tea. Tomorrow I might have a different answer.
5) What attracts you to writing a historical series?
I love to research. I love to see how people lived their everyday lives 70 years ago. I've been struggling to understand how the Nazis rose to power and the aftermath for decades. I know many more facts, but am no closer to an answer.
Thank you so much for answering my questions, Rebecca!
If you're buying books as gifts this holiday season, please consider purchasing from your local independent bookshop. The level of customer service you'll receive is unmatched, you'll have the added benefit of making new friends of the staff, and you'll help support a local business.
Books featured in this post can be purchased from the Mystery Bookstore in Los Angeles (firstname.lastname@example.org).