Hello and welcome to my blog, Author Interviews. My name is Fiona Mcvie.
Let’s get you introduced to everyone, shall we? Tell us your name. What is your age?
Aaron Paul Lazar, 64
Fiona: Where are you from?
Boston, Mass originally, since 1981 from the Genesee Valley south of Rochester, NY.
Fiona: A little about your self (ie, your education, family life, etc.).
I earned a BSEE (engineering) from Northeastern University and accepted a job with Eastman Kodak in 1981. My wife Dale and I moved to the Genesee Valley region (near the Finger Lakes) in western NY for this job, and also began our family. Years later, our three daughters have graced us with six grandkids, whom we adore. Currently we share a house in the country with one daughter, two little toddler grandsons, two dogs, and four cats.
Fiona: Tell us your latest news.
I’m almost finished with the twelfth LeGarde Mystery, Murder on the Brewster Flats. This long awaited sequel brings Gus and Camille to Cape Cod, where they meet characters from my love story series, Paines Creek Beach love stories. Full of pirates, treasure, family feuds, and action, it’s been a blast to write!
Fiona: When and why did you begin writing?
My father died suddenly in 1997, the 8th person in 5 years to die in my circle of family and friends. It devastated me, and I needed an outlet. I decided to write a book in honor of my father, who was a music professor, pianist, country gentleman, soup maker, and more. Thus was born Gus LeGarde, the hero of the LeGarde Mystery series who calls himself a “Renaissance man caught in the 21st century.”
Fiona: When did you first consider yourself a writer?
First time writers always have angst over whether or not they’re a “real” writer. Will the author community accept them as authentic? Will readers enjoy their work and want more? I think it was when I received this review from Thomas Fortenberry (a great literary reviewer) that I honestly felt like a “real” writer.
“Double Forté, the first of the Gus LeGarde series of mysteries written by Aaron Paul Lazar, is a chilling thriller. But this book is such a far cry from the cliché thrillers of today that it is almost the start of a new genre. This book is thriller, mystery, romance, and literature all at once. I could be done by saying it is just plain good writing, but that doesn’t seem fair for a review. I cannot possibly do it justice, but I will attempt to convey some of the unique majesty of this book. However, I will not be able to mention many specifics of the plot for fear of giving it all away.
This book is set neatly in its own world, a beautiful valley in upstate New York. The world is that of Professor LeGarde, a classical musical instructor. Music informs every part of this novel, from his worldview to the other characters, the scenes and escalation of action, right down to the prose itself. This is a very musical piece of literature with a varied tempo depending upon the scene, its intensity, such as its romance or fear. A very lyrical read.
But, please do not misunderstand me. This is not a fantasy or whimsical bit of fluff. This is a very serious, very intense novel about real characters. Lazar does a fantastic job getting inside the minds and exploring the emotions that drive all the characters. The world is very solid and presented in such a complete way that you become a part of it. We understand these people and why everything in this book occurs. That is a very nice and rare trick for an author to pull.
Double Forté is a refreshing work of handcrafted beauty, even given its nail biting nature. Lazar has crafted an original character in LeGarde, one which I am very glad to learn has an entire series dedicated to him. I strongly recommend this book to all fans of James Patterson, Iris Johanson, and Mary Higgins Clark. You will not be disappointed.”
Thomas Fortenberry is an American author, editor, reviewer, and publisher. Owner of Mind Fire Press and the international literary arts journal Mindfire, he has judged many literary contests, including The Georgia Author of the Year Awards and The Robert Penn Warren Prize for Fiction. Among other awards, such as twice winning Best Novella of the Year, he has also been nominated for the Pushcart Prize. He currently edits for two journals, Mindfire and The Istanbul Literary Review, though he has done editorial work on numerous magazines, anthologies, and journals in the past (such as Maelstrom, Ragnarok, Phic-Shun, Morphesium, and The Global Knowledge Series of Arts and Sciences [GKSAS]).
Fiona: What inspired you to write your first book?
The unthinkable happened in 1997, when my father was diagnosed with cancer in the same month that my grandmother died of Alzheimer’s disease.We had a summer of hope, but the cancer hit again, and he was gone. In six short months, he was diagnosed, treated, and then he vanished.
Completely shattered, I walked a lot, trudging through the autumn woods. I heard my father’s voice whisper in the breeze, imagining words that weren’t there.
The need to write was insistent. Urgent.
I’d return to my office and madly type poems full of gaudy words painting my grief. Each time I walked and mourned, I’d return home and write. Again. And again.And again.
Getting the words on paper was immensely comforting. Although I’d always figured I’d write a mystery series someday, I thought it would be when the kids were grown and I’d retired.
Then it hit me. I’d write a book and model the protagonist after Dad. It would be a tribute to him, a testimony to his life.
I began to write Double Forté.My hero was a music professor, like Dad. He gardened with a passion, like Dad. He embraced the arts, like Dad. And he assiduously tended to his musical spirit, like Dad. He played Chopin études with wild abandon to clear his mind and feed his soul. And he cooked magnificent feasts for his family from his gardens filled with exotic vegetables.
I found consolation in the creation of scenes, as if I’d found a way to “visit” with him. And as the process of writing one book became easier, the next, and the next, and the next flowed effortlessly from my fingertips until I stopped to breathe. I had created eight full novels in five short years.
Fiona: How did you come up with the title?
In Double Forté, Gus LeGarde is a music professor. His grandson, Johnny, is interested in piano. They sit at the keyboard and talk about the music, and Gus teaches him about “pianissimo” (really, really soft) and “double forté” (really loud!). I thought it might make a good title, and worked it later into the book as well when Johnny goes missing for a while. Also, since Gus is a musician, I wanted to have musical or theatrical titles. I did that for a while (Double Forté, Upstaged, Mazurka, FireSong, Tremolo: cry of the loon) then let myself branch out with non-musical titles later books (Don’t Let the Wind Catch You, Spirit Me Away, The Liar’s Gallery, Under the Ice, Lady Blues, Voodoo Summer, Murder on the Brewster Flats).
Fiona: Do you have a specific writing style? Is there anything about your style or genre that you find particularly challenging?
My style is pretty much immersing the reader in the protagonists life and experiences. What he or she feels, senses, tastes, hears, sees is clearly depicted, so that you feel you are truly in the scene. I also tend to like to do short vignettes that alternate touching family moments with bone-chilling action. At least I do this in the early LeGarde Mysteries. I found not including mysterious elements in my love stories to be the most challenging. Still, some mysteries crept into them. (Paines Creek Beach love stories: The Seacrest, The Seacroft, The Seadog)
Fiona: How much of the book is realistic and are experiences based on someone you know, or events in your own life?
My books are mostly based on my own life experiences as far as the characters, settings, dialog, etc. go. But the villains are imaginary, thankfully! News, movies, books, etc. tend to give us good villain models, and I created the worst people I could imagine.
Fiona: To craft your works, do you have to travel? Before or during the process?
I don’t travel to write, but when I write, I use the locales of places I’ve been. For example, Mazurka is based on my assignments in Europe for the day job, and my Paines Creek Beach love stories are set on Cape Cod. I often include Maine in my stories as well, as in Tremolo: cry of the loon and Voodoo Summer.
Fiona: Who designed the covers?
Kellie Dennis, from BookCoversbyDesign in the UK. She is the best and allows me to work with her to choose the images from stock photography sites. Sometimes she finds the perfect image and sometimes I do, but all in all it is a very satisfying experience. She’s a superb designer.
Fiona: Is there a message in your novel that you want readers to grasp?
My books are mostly written for entertainment, but hidden within the chase scenes and victory over the villains are examples of how to be a better father and grandfather. I like to show that men can nourish families, too, and be caring people.
Fiona: Are there any new authors that have grasped your interest? Who is your favorite writer, and what is it about their work that really strikes you?
My favorite author comes from a few generations ago: John D. MacDonald (Travis McGee series). But lately I’ve been lovingHarlan Coben’s thrillers, especially the audiobook versions. I also enjoy Dick Francis, Alan Bradley (FlaviaDeLuce novels), Laurie R. King (Sherlock novels), Andrew Cunningham, Sonya Bateman, and Clay Boutwell.
Fiona: Outside of family members, name one entity that supported your commitment to become a published author.
My author friend and mentor, Sonya Bateman. She stuck by me since 2004 and I’ve always appreciated her patient guidance.https://www.amazon.com/Sonya-Bateman/e/B004EHGG12
Fiona: Do you see writing as a career?
Yes, and I hope to be able to drop the day job someday soon!
Fiona: If you had to do it all over again, would you change anything in your latest book?
It may sound odd, but so far I’m happy with it. If I’d wanted to change it, I would have done it before I published it. I try to make sure it’s got everything covered before I let it go. And I use many Beta readers to keep me honest! They are invaluable to the process.
Fiona: Did you learn anything during the writing of your recent book?
Yes, I had to do some digging into 1779 and History of Brewster, Mass.
Fiona: If your book was made into a film, who would you like to play the lead?
YannickBisson would make a perfect Gus LeGarde. http://montrealgazette.com/entertainment/local-arts/murdoch-mysteries-yannick-bisson-raises-a-glass-to-the-detective-shows-11th-season
Fiona: Any advice for other writers?
Write something every day, even if it’s for 15 minutes, even if it’s garbage. Just keep those fingers moving!
Fiona: Anything specific you want to tell your readers?
I’ve written 27 books and received 20 literary and book awards, but you know what? My favorite part about this whole process isn’t the accolades, it’s connecting with my readers. I love hearing from them and I answer all emails at firstname.lastname@example.org
Fiona: What book are you reading now?
Deal Breaker by Harlen Coben.
Fiona: Do you remember the first book you read?
No, but it was probably along the lines of the Lad-a-Dog books or young people’s mysteries. ;o) Loved animals and mysteries and read voraciously as a kid.
Fiona: What makes you laugh/cry?
Watching shows like Father Brown Mysteries with its amazing characters always gives me a chuckle. I tear up over unrequited love stories like Pride and Prejudice when the boy gets girl or vice versa.
Fiona: Is there one person, past or present, you would love to meet? Why?
John D. MacDonald, because he’s my writer hero.
Fiona: Do you have any hobbies?
Photography, gardening, reading, hiking in the country, cooking, but mostly I love playing with my grandkids!
Fiona: What TV shows/films do you enjoy watching?
Murdoch Mysteries, Midsomer Murders, Father Brown Mysteries, Doc Martin, Foyle’s War, Sherlock Holmes (BBC), Stranger Things, etc.
Fiona: Favorite foods, colors, music?
Apples, Thai food, corn on the cob; red and blue; Ella Fitzgerald, The Beatles, The Stones, The Doors, Chopin mazurkas and nocturnes, lyric opera like Carmen and Tosca.
Fiona: Imagine a future where you no longer write. What would you do?
I’d become frustrated and very depressed. I’d probably turn into a really mean person!
Fiona: What do you want written on your head stone?
I can’t think of an answer here, Fiona! LOL.
Fiona: Do you have a blog or website readers can visit for updates, events and special offers?
LEGARDE MYSTERIES (country mysteries set in the Finger Lakes)
GREEN MARBLE MYSTERIES (mysteries with time travel and a ghost)
TALL PINES MYSTERIES (sensual mysteries set in the Adirondacks)
PAINES CREEK BEACH SERIES (love stories by the sea)
BITTERSWEET HOLLOW SERIES (romantic suspense involving kidnapping)
Double Forte’ (first book in the LeGarde Mysteries) is free.