Title: Murder Aboard the Queen Elizabeth II
Synopsis: Wealthy Beverly Hills socialites, Brian and Sylvia Sinclair, are celebrating their 25th Anniversary on a cruise from London to New York on the luxurious QEII. Joining the couple’s joyous excursion is their rebellious daughter and her controlling husband, their scheming son and his wily girlfriend, six of their longtime friends, and a surprise person from their past. Also on board is private eye Richard Manning, who volunteers to investigate when a member of the party dies an unnatural death. Manning’s search reveals dark secrets and everyone becomes a suspect. Ferreting out the truth is a daunting challenge, and time is short—once the ship reaches New York, the parties will scatter—making it almost impossible for authorities to solve the case. Will Manning figure it out in time? Follow him on his quest to unmask the killer in this captivating mystery.
CH: Today’s Guest Author is Stephen Murray. He enjoys traveling and has explored the world extensively, which gives him background for his writings. Welcome to my blog, Stephen.
CH: Can you sum up your novel in 20 words or less?
SM: My novel is a fun, clean, cozy, page-turning, murder mystery with a very diverse cast of intriguing characters as suspects.
CH: What made you decide to write this book about a cruise from London to New York?
SM: I originally wrote a murder mystery for a dinner party in my home! The short story centered around a wealthy Beverly Hills couple celebrating their silver wedding anniversary with family and friends. The murder mystery was set in their mansion. After I published my first two novels, I wanted to have a shot (no pun intended!) at writing a murder mystery novel. I thought it would be interesting to expand my original story line from my dinner party, and set it against the backdrop of the QEII to (hopefully) make it more entertaining. I had the good fortune to travel on the Queen Elizabeth II many years ago, and thought it would be interesting to blend the two experiences.
CH: Was it hard creating believable situations and issues or did you take them from real life and elaborate?
SM: My novel involves the ‘lifestyles of the rich and famous’, a way of life with which I am totally unfamiliar. The situations and characters were pure imagination. That is what makes my writing journey such an enjoyable one.
CH: Where do your ideas come from? Do you have a standard formula for plots or do stories come to you as a whole concept?
SM: In all my novels, the ideas are original. I never base any of my characters upon people I know or have met. I generally create an overall concept in my mind, and see the beginning and the end of the novel. I then have to figure how to get from start to finish. That often takes me down very interesting side paths. As part of a standard formula, I do try and include the gamut of emotions in all novels—sadness, joy, grief, love, passion, and always a dose of humor. The characters must be credible and have contrasting personality traits.
CH: What is different and exciting that you bring to your readers through your mystery/thriller writing style?
SM: In Murder Aboard the Queen Elizabeth II, I tried a slightly different concept. In many murder mysteries, the victim becomes apparent in the very early stages. In my novel, the murder doesn’t actually take place until quite far into the book. The entire cast of characters is introduced, and any one of them could be the victim. I thought it might be fun to offer the reader a twofer—first to figure out the victim, and then to figure out the murderer.
CH: Did you have to do any special research to write this book?
SM: Not really. I did have to rely heavily on recall, since it had been so long since I had travelled on the QEII. But having lived in London and in Los Angeles (albeit, not Beverly Hills), I was familiar with the places and localities mentioned in Murder Aboard the Queen Elizabeth II.
CH: Who was your favorite character to write?
SM: There was no favorite. They were all fun and challenging to develop. They all have their good sides, but they all have their dark elements—and all have a reason, if not the capacity, to commit murder.
CH: Which character was hardest to write?
SM: Sylvia Sinclair, the character who is celebrating her Silver Wedding Anniversary. She is very stoic, refined, straight-laced, controlled, dignified, and very upper-class British. And she does not reveal her emotions easily.
CH: Is there a message in this book that you want readers to grasp?
SM: I would just like the reader to enjoy the escapism, wrap themselves in the luxury and elegance of the environment, knowing that even the wealthy and famous have their demons.
CH: Some of your books are about love and romance. Is this your favorite genre for writing?
SM: No. I like writing in all genres. I was encouraged to write for the female reader and stumbled across the idea of writing a novel focused on a day at a fictional Las Vegas Wedding Chapel. The book tells the stories behind the couples that travel to our city to get married, and, in so doing, have made it the marriage capital of the world. The idea spawned my first published novel, The Chapel of Eternal Love: Wedding Stories from Las Vegas, and its unintended sequel, Return to the Chapel of Eternal Love: Marriage Stories from Las Vegas.
CH: Who are some of your favorite writing influences?
SM: Charles Dickens. Who else could come up with such delicious characters as Ebenezer Scrooge, Fagin, the Artful Dodger, Mr. Micawber and Uriah Heep?
CH: What has been the most exciting thing to happen on your publishing journey?
SM: There have been many exciting happenings on my publishing journey, not least are the amazing people I have met along the way who have enriched my life. If I had to cite the most exciting though, it would probably have to be when The Chapel of Eternal Love: Wedding Stories from Las Vegas won First Place Award in the mainstream fiction category in the Authors Talk About It book contest. It was totally unexpected. The most exciting happening will be if it is ever optioned for a TV series.
CH: What type of feedback are you receiving from readers?
SM: Fortunately, very favorable. All three of my published novels have been well received. It has been very, very humbling and extremely gratifying.
CH: What can we expect from you next?
SM: I am currently in the middle of writing another murder novel, this one set in Las Vegas.
CH: How to Find Stephen Murray:
- Stephen’s Website: http://www.authorstephanmurray.com
- Stephen’s Amazon Link: http://tiny.cc/vliiny
- Stephen’s Author Page: http://tiny.cc/nqiiny
CH: For my audience, where is your book sold?
SM: They are available on Amazon and Kindle. If readers would like signed and personalized copies, it can be ordered from my website, where credit cards and PayPal are accepted. All of my books are distributed internationally through IngramSpark and can be ordered at any book store.
CH: Any closing remarks?
SM: Thank you, Cheryl, for this wonderful opportunity, and for your very thought-provoking questions. I would like to thank your audience for taking the time to read about my books and my journey as a writer. I certainly wish you and your followers every success and much love and happiness in all future endeavors.
CH: Thank you so much, Stephen Murray, for taking time out of your very busy writing schedule to join me and my blog followers. It has been a real pleasure discussing your book with my audience. And readers, if you’re like me and would enjoy this book. I suggest you pick up a copy at your earliest convenience.
Note: Photos/Clip art are compliments of the Internet, Stephen Murray and Cheryl Holloway.
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