by Merry Jones
on Tour July 2014
Published by: Oceanview
Publication Date: July 1, 2014
Number of Pages: 288
Elle Harrison has taken a leave of absence to mourn the death of her husband Charlie.
Her friend Becky takes her out to dinner to cheer her up and, on impulse, drags her into a fortune teller’s shop. The fortune teller predicts that Elle will travel and meet a new man. She also says that Elle is surrounded by a dark aura that draws the dead to her.
Elle dismissed the predictions as hogwash. But then her friend Jen takes her, Becky and another friend, Susan, to Mexico where she is getting lost cost cosmetic surgery. Elle is attracted to and asked out by Jen’s surgeon, Alain DuBois. And Elle finds a woman hanging onto the balcony next to hers by her fingertips. Elle tries to save her and fails, almost dying in the process.
All of the fortune teller’s predictions have come true. And, as the week progresses, more of Alain DuBois’ patients are gruesomely killed, Jen is attacked, Elle is nearly murdered, and the spirit of her dead husband Charlie keeps appearing to her.
Who is trying to kill Dr. DuBois’ patients–And why? Who is trying to murder Elle? Why does she keep seeing Charlie–Is she nuts? Or is his spirit really trying to protect her?
ELECTIVE PROCEDURES makes a week in Mexico into a chilling page turner, full of twists and unexpected developments, as well as a face lift or two.
Do you draw from personal experiences and/or current events?
I think that writing brings together conscious, subconscious, unconscious thoughts. In that way, every experience I’ve had influences my work. My books don’t directly reflect my life, but they certainly reflect lessons/emotions/events/relationships. For example, in ELECTIVE PROCEDURES, the dread and fear I felt when my husband was sick are the dread and fear I try to conjure up when Elle Harrison faces unknown dangers. And the location is based on a place I visited in Mexico. All my work is based on a combination of reality snippets, emotional truths and imagined plots and characters.
Do you start with the conclusion and plot in reverse or start from the beginning and see where the story line brings you?
Neither. I begin neither at the beginning nor the end. I usually start with a character and put her into a situation of conflict and tension. Her reactions to that situation begin to create a storyline. But often the actual book will start before or after the “situation” that I started with. For example, in ELECTIVE PROCEDURES, the situation was that Elle would be out of the country, surrounded by surgery patients who were dying or being killed. But the book begins before she travels, before she even imagines being among surgery patients.
As to seeing where the story line goes, I never leave it to chance. I outline each book before I start writing, so I know generally where I’m going. If better ideas arise during the writing process, I deviate from the outline. But I always have a plan so I won’t go off in a direction that leads nowhere.
Your routine when writing? Any idiosyncrasies?
I need to work for 3-4 hours uninterrupted. I can’t sit down to write if I know I’ll have to stop in an hour or two. But I rarely work for more than 3 or 4 hours. Also, here’s an idiosyncracy: While I’m working on a book, I do very little reading of other people’s novels. I find that the voices of other writers interfere with my own and affect my rhythm. I tend to isolate myself while I’m working on a book, socializing only rarely.
Is writing your full time job? If not, may I ask what you do by day?
Full time writer. But I teach writing classes from time to time.
Who are some of your favorite authors?
Too many to list. Often, my favorite is the one I’m reading at the moment, because I feel like I’m hanging out with that person. But my preferences are fickle and dependent on my moods. Can be classic authors like Twain or Dostoevsky, or current genre writers like Joy Fielding or Faye Kellerman.
What are you reading now?
Empress of the Night, by Eva Stachniak. It’s about Catherine the Great.
Are you working on your next novel? Can you tell us a little about it?
I am working on a novel now, yes. I feel that it’s bad luck to talk about works in progress. So all I’ll say is that it’s about a woman who’s recovering from years of captivity and the detective who finds her.
Your novel will be a movie. Who would you cast?
Elle Harrison would be Natalie Portman. Alain DuBois would be Jude Law. His wife would be Helena Bonham Carter. Charlie would be Chris Noth.
Manuscript/Notes: hand written or keyboard?
Favorite leisure activity/hobby?
Skulling. I row over a thousand miles each year out of Vesper Boat Club on the Schuylkill River.
Again, too many to name and my preferences depend on my moods. But pastas and chocolate appear often on my dinner table.
Read an excerpt:
Merry Jones has written the Elle Harrison suspense novels (THE TROUBLE WITH CHARLIE, ELECTIVE PROCEDURES), the Harper Jennings thrillers (SUMMER SESSION, BEHIND THE WALLS, WINTER BREAK, OUTSIDE EDEN, and this fall, IN THE WOODS), the Zoe Hays mysteries (THE NANNY MURDERS, THE RIVER KILLINGS, DEADLY NEIGHBORS, THE BORROWED AND BLUE MURDERS). She has also written humor (including I LOVE HIM, BUT…) and non-fiction (including BIRTHMOTHERS: Women who relinquished babies for adoption tell their stories). Jones taught college creative writing for fifteen years. Her work has been translated into seven languages, and appeared in many magazines, including GLAMOUR. She is a member of Mystery Writers of America, The Authors Guild, International Thriller Writers, and The Philadelphia Liars Club. The mother of two grown daughters, she lives outside Philadelphia with her husband.