Good morning, y’all! I hope you’ve set aside a little time today, because not only do I have a review for you, I also have a Q&A with the sister duo who’re author P.J. Parrish! Settle in and read on…
About P.J. Parrish:
P.J. Parrish is the New York Times bestselling author of ten Louis Kincaid and Joe Frye thrillers. The author is actually two sisters, Kristy Montee (left) and Kelly Nichols (right). Their books have appeared on both the New York Times and USA Today best seller lists. The series has garnered 11 major crime-fiction awards, and an Edgar® nomination. Parrish has won two Shamus awards, one Anthony and one International Thriller competition. Her books have been published throughout Europe and Asia.
drey: Who is Kristy Montee? Who is Kelly Nichols? Please introduce yourselves in about ten sentences.
Kelly & Kris: We are sisters who combined our life-long love of writing 12 years ago to launch our Louis Kincaid series. As kids, we both wrote short-stories — Kelly’s first effort was THE KILL, in which a serial killer goes after The Beatles. Kris’s first story was THE CAT WHO UNDERSTOOD. Not much has changed; Kris still tends to handle the character parts of books and Kelly does the gory stuff. We’ve worked (separately) as a newspaper editor, dance critic, blackjack dealer, personnel director and (in tougher times) we’ve flipped burgers and delivered phone books. We’re happy as clams to be paid to write for a living now!
drey: When did you decide to write together? And how did you come up with PJ Parrish?
Kelly & Kris: Kris had a brief stint writing big juicy family sagas but when she tried to switch to mysteries sort of flailed around. Her husband suggested she team up with Kelly (who was trying to write romance but her heart wasn’t it in). Kelly was living in a small town in Mississippi with a biracial granddaughter so our hero Louis Kincaid and first book DARK OF THE MOON was born of that experience. As that first book was in the publishing pipeline, our editor was pressuring us to come up with a pen name. We were driving around the Cotswolds in England and were stranded in a pub during a downpour. We had a couple glasses of wine and decided we liked the surname “Paris” (we were going there in a day). We called our agent and suggested “P.J. Paris.” When we got the contract, it was “Parrish.” Whether it was the wine or a bad phone connection, we’ll never know! True story….we swear.
drey: How does your collaboration work? Do you take turns? Create outlines? Spend hours on Skype? Rock-paper-scissors for what stays and what goes?
Kelly & Kris: Early in our career, we did outline but we don’t anymore. We give our editors a basic concept with characters and general plot and we “template” about four to five chapters ahead in spurts, each of us taking a chapter. We subscribe to E.L. Doctorow’s analogy (paraphrasing here) that writing a novel is like driving a car at night. You can only see as far as your headlights allow but you can make an entire journey that way. We write, exchange chapters and massage each other’s work. We also get on Skype every day to discuss the upcoming chapters or sometimes to even work on a chapter or scene together. And yes, we do disagree but we know that there is a third voice in our collaboration — the book. And the book always wins.
drey: Who and/or what inspires your writing? How do you get from idea to pages?
Kelly & Kris: Inspiration — thank the writing gods! — comes from everywhere and often when you least expect it. Many of our plots seem to arise from places. The settings of our books — be it an abandoned insane asylum or a remote Victorian island in northern Michigan as in HEART OF ICE — are very important to us. We have to SEE our settings so our readers can as well. Getting the idea to the page is, well, a magic of sorts, isn’t it? But it’s also plain old hard work. As Mike Connelly puts it, writing is like rolling a boulder up a steep hill. The push upward is very hard and you go on faith. But then you reach the top and after that it’s just a matter of racing downhill to keep up.
drey: Tell us about HEART OF ICE. Why should we read it?
Kelly & Kris: HEART OF ICE is, we think, our best combination of the crime part of the story and its personal impact on our characters, especially Louis. There is a fascinating cold case murder involving a wealthy family with deep secrets, and lots of personal intrigue for Louis as he tried to connect with his daughter Lily and his estranged lover Joe Frye. And the setting is wonderful — the amazing Mackinac Island which goes from buccolic in fall to isolated and dangerous in winter.
drey: What do you indulge in, when not writing?
Kelly: Refinishing old furniture, antique shopping, graphic arts, reruns of Law & Order
Kris: Travel, cooking, running (good time to plot!) and reading (I can’t read for pleasure while writing)
drey: Smackdown: Your favorite characters face off in the ring. Who are they, who wins, and why?
Kelly: Aaron Hotchner from “Criminal Minds” vs Hannibal Lector. Because it would be psychological warfare. Aaron wins because good always trumps evil.
Kris: Zorro (The old Guy Williams TV version) vs Kirk Douglas in “The Vikings.” Zorro wins and sends Kirk to his Viking funeral reward.
drey: Chocolate + ______________ = Heaven
Kelly: Cherries from Traverse City, Michigan
Kris: Peanut butter (but I’d rather have gummy bears)
drey: What’s up next for you?
Kelly & Kris: We’re working on two books at once. The next in our Louis Kincaid series, also set here in Michigan. And a new series featuring a woman sleuth set in San Francisco. In down time, we are converting our old Louis books to eBooks. It’s great fun when new fans find us through our old books.
I enjoyed the previous two Louis Kincaid novels, and was looking forward to Heart of Ice where I’d hoped for more of Louis and Joe, or at the very least a forward movement of some sort for Louis. I’m happy to say I got both, and having it wrapped up in a twenty-year-old cold case just makes this a sundae with a cherry on top.
We start out in the past, with a boy who’s wondering how to get out to the island when the ferry’s not running. And switch to the present with Louis and Lily exploring Mackinac Island and finding a pile of bones. That’s a great kid-friendly vacation right there, folks! *shudder*
When Louis is asked to help with the investigation, he can’t refuse, even if it means his vacation with Lily is cut short. On the bright side, Joe shows up to help out for a few days. Before you know it, he’s almost a cop again.
Heart of Ice isn’t as gory and creepy as the previous two Louis Kincaid novels I read, but you’re still bouncing on your toes while waiting for Louis et al to figure out whodunnit, and better yet, what was done… This series should be on all crime-fiction fans’ lists.
drey’s rating: Excellent!
Title: Heart of Ice (Louis Kincaid #11)
Author: P.J. Parrish
Paperback: 422 pages
Publisher: Pocket Books, 2013
Purchase at IndieBound, Amazon, The Book Depository
Source: Simon & Schuster
Have you read Heart of Ice? What did you think?