Tuesday, February 10, 2015

AUTHORS UNCOVERED INTERVIEW (Unabridged Version)

Celia Conrad reads a chapter from Murder in Hand.

AUTHORS UNCOVERED INTERVIEW

When did you first realise you wanted to be a writer?
Deciding to write wasn’t a conscious decision. I didn’t just decide one day that I wanted to be a writer. I always enjoyed writing stories and I was a very imaginative child with lots of ideas, but it wasn’t until a friend said that I had a way of “relaying a story” and that I should write my ideas down that I really thought about writing fiction. 
 When did you write your first book? 
The first book I actually completed was a non-fiction legal handbook Fathers Matter to assist families embroiled in custody battles and I started working on this in 2001. The first edition was published in 2003. The book proved very popular and is now in its third edition.


Why did you decide on your particular genre?
I have a strong sense of justice and that good must overcome evil eventually! Crime fiction seems to work well with that. I like the fact that in the end the “baddies” get their come-uppance and that truth prevails.


Friday, January 16, 2015

CELIA CONRAD INTERVIEW: "MURDER IN HAND"



Title: Murder in Hand (Alicia Allen Investigates Trilogy, Book 3)
Author: Celia Conrad Copyright: 2012
Publisher: Barcham Books Pages: 352
Trade Paperback and All E-Book Formats
ISBN 13: 978-0954623340
ASIN: B00A1O1YQE

The greatest pleasures lie in Celia Conrad's refusal or inability to write for the lowest common denominator. Instead she aims for the highest. 
                               —Midwest Book Review (Murder in Hand)

On Dec. 13 through Dec. 14, Barcham Books will gift readers with Book 3 in Celia Conrad’s Alicia Allen Investigates Trilogy (AAI), Murder in Hand (MIH), as a free e-book via Kindle Direct Publishing (KDP) Select program.

 “It’s our way of saying thank you and wishing everyone a happy holiday,” said Barcham Books’ Jane Hall. “We are very pleased that Midwest Book Review features Murder in Hand this month. Everyone, it seems, just loves Alicia.”

This cerebral legal murder mystery turns on Italian international corruption, Puccini and dead Probate attorneys as it hails the return of Alicia Allen, the potato chip loving half-Italian London lawyer who never lets her thriving relationship with a handsome lawyer cohort stand in the way of fingering a culprit.

“The beauty of Murder in Hand is that it can be read as a stand-alone,” said Hall.


We recently sat down with Celia Conrad to discuss her author’s journey from law to legal crime fiction:

Q: All the AAI books deal with the darker side of the legal world. Did you draw from your experiences as a London attorney?

A: As a solicitor I met some rather obnoxious people and a few shady/unsavory characters.

Q: Did you ever find yourself pursuing a murderer in your law practice?

A: My world is far less dangerous than Alicia’s, although we do share love for Italian culture and a crisp that rhymes with “Tingles.” We both like researching and analyzing complex legal issues.

Q: The Italophile Book Review recommended MIH for “Italophiles, Anglophiles, fans of traditional British mysteries, and fans of cozy-murder-mysteries.” Would you agree?

A: Absolutely. And I was thrilled when the Readers’ Favorite 5-Star Award Review said Alicia “should be on the top of every woman’s reading list.” My fan mail shows AAI readers like strong but not perfect female detectives, and they love the repartee between Alicia and Alex.

Q: Book 1 sends Alicia through London’s urban dangers. Book 2 takes her to Australia, and Book 3 spans New York, London, Italy and Sicily. Italian culture provides color and clues. What inspired you to use Puccini in Book 3?

A: When I first saw Puccini’s opera, Gianni Schicchi, I hoped to use it in a plot of my own, and it did prove most “handy” in Murder in Hand.

Tuesday, December 9, 2014

"Murder in Hand" featured on Awesome Gang Home Page Today!


My book is featured on AwesomeGang.com

Thank you, Awesome Gang, for featuring "Murder in Hand" on your homepage today! What a wonderful service you do for all indie authors and publishers!

Vinny at Awesome Gang has generously offered to feature "Murder in Hand" again when this "Italian crime romp" is offered as a free Amazon Kindle download this weekend (Sat. & Sun.) Dec. 13-14. Thank you for all your wonderful support! You are....well, AWESOME!

 http://awesomegang.com/murder-hand/


 

Tuesday, November 25, 2014

Book Club Reading Guide for Murder in Hand (Alicia Allen Investigates Book 3) as listed on LitLovers...

Here's the Book Club Reading Guide for Murder in Hand as featured on LitLovers. To go to LitLovers please click here.

Murder in Hand (Alicia Allen Investigates Trilogy, 3
Celia Conrad, 2012  / Barchan Books / 352 pp. / ISBN-13: 9780954623340


Summary
This third book in the Alicia Allen Investigates Trilogy finds Alicia Allen—the half-Italian/half-British London solicitor with such a passion for justice it would make even Portia envious—sleuthing with her adoring cohort and fellow lawyer, Alex Waterford, in this tangled mystery of corruption on both sides of the law that spans England, New York, Sicily and mainland Italy.
When Fabio Angelino shows up in Alicia's office, the Italian American not only asks her to handle the Probate of his mother's English estate, but reveals that someone has been trying to kill him—perhaps the same person responsible for his lawyer father's disappearance in Sicily 16 years ago while working for a New York firm. The Italian police suspect the Mafia, but Fabio’s father’s death remains unsolved. Alicia and Alex have developed a comfortable relationship, and he urges her not to get too involved for her own safety. However, when Fabio's sister, Guilia, is found callously murdered, Alicia feels compelled to investigate. Her quest takes her from England to Sicily and Italy over beautiful, but sinister, terrain as she finds herself pulled into an underworld where the most dangerous and corrupt criminals are those who hide behind the law. Alicia’s Italian heritage comes to the surface as she looks for clues hidden in Italian Probate law, culture and Puccini. But in her bid to entrap the killer or killers, has Alicia Allen finally taken on malevolent forces too great, and will this be her last investigation? (From the publisher.)

This is the final book in the Alicia Allen Investigates Trilogy. A Model Murder (2011) is the first, and Wilful Murder (2011) is the second.

Celia Conrad is a British author who shares similarities with the heroine of her Alicia Allen Investigates Trilogy in her own Anglo-Italian heritage and solicitor experience (aka "lawyer" in the U.S.). Together they share an enthusiasm for crime solving, Shakespeare, All Things Italian and, of course, Pringles. A Model Murder was her debut novel, written at the suggestion of a mentor who encouraged her to write mysteries based on real-life stories she has encountered while working within the law. She followed it with Wilful Murder and Murder in Hand, Books 2 and 3, respectively in the Alicia Allen Investigates series. 


Reviews
Bone Up on Your Puccini in This Italian Crime Romp!
In this cerebral legal mystery, Celia Conrad pulls her feisty half-Italian London Probate/Estate lawyer heroine deeper into the quagmire world of unscrupulous attorneys, the unfortunates who work with them and their unsuspecting innocent victims. In this third book of the Alicia Allen trilogy, Conrad hits her stride as a bona fide puzzle master. The easy-to-follow plot line keeps readers guessing and pages turning. Great pleasures lie in Conrad's refusal--or perhaps inability--to write for the lowest common denominator of brainpower. Instead she aims for the highest. If you want to roll with Alicia Allen...better bring your A-Game (and some knowledge of Puccini opera wouldn't hurt). Murder in Hand could be enjoyed as a stand-alone book if readers don't mind not knowing the history between the justice-loving attorney and her adoring cohort Alex Waterford, and their mutual love for a potato chip that rhymes with “Tingles."
                                              Dancing in the Experience Lane Book Reviews Blog



The world of a young English woman whose life is enriched
by her Italian mother's culture.
Murder in Hand is a book I can recommend for Italophiles, Anglophiles, fans of traditional British mysteries, and fans of Cozy-Murder-Mysteries. Savor the setting details, meanderings, the theories, and the relationships. All true to the genre, along with multiple murders, investigative trails galore, an exciting ending, and a romantic Epilogue. The Alicia Allen Investigates series gives Italophile cozy-fans a look into the world of a young English woman whose life is enriched by her Italian mother's culture, If you have read the first two books in the series, you will enjoy catching up with Alicia's friends and family. If you are new to the series, you will still be able to understand and enjoy Alicia's relationships, especially the interplay and affection with her boyfriend who is Alicia's sounding board.
                                             Italophile Book Reviews




Discussion Questions
1. How much do you feel Alicia’s Italian background and the "importance of family" influence her attitude in her personal dealings with the people she meets?

2. How did you feel about Alicia’s reaction to Fabio’s plight? Could you relate to it or not? Why?

3. What insight does Murder in Hand give you into legal family arrangements?

4. What makes Alicia a strong female protagonist?

Sunday, November 23, 2014

Book Club Reading Guide for Wilful Murder (Alicia Allen Investigates Book 2) as listed on LitLovers...

If you are a member of a book club or you want to set one up or you just love reading and books, then I recommend you check out LitLovers.

LitLovers features reading guides ( including discussion questions), book reviews, author bios and plot summaries and far more besides. The site was created by Molly Lundquist, a former English instructor who “loves to read and can’t stop talking about literature.” Many thanks to Molly for including Wilful Murder in the listings for book clubs and featuring the reading guide for the book. To read the full listing please see below or to go to the LitLovers website please click here.

Wilful Murder  (Alicia Allen Investigates Trilogy, 2)
Celia Conrad, 2011
Barcham Books
332 pp.
ISBN-13:
9780954623333


Summary
The second mystery in the Alicia Allen Investigates trilogy lures the justice-loving solicitor out of London and into the shadowy depths of the Land Down Under where nothing is what it seems and a risky Trust could lead to murder.

When an Australian-born heiress living in London asks Alicia Allen to draw up a Will in expectation of her forthcoming marriage and impending English fortune, she reveals that her family members have been meeting untimely deaths. After her fiancé is killed in an explosion, and her own life is threatened, she implores Alicia to investigate. Alicia soon finds herself hot on the trail of a psychopathic killer who could be responsible for the deaths and near-deaths that continue to occur in London and Australia—or are there two psychopaths working in tandem?

Alicia’s quest takes her to Australia—coinciding with an Australian friend’s wedding in Brisbane where Alicia’s old flame Alex Waterford has also been invited. Alex, a London lawyer now working in Singapore for a British firm, confesses his love for Alicia, but events conspire to make the pursuit of justice more important than personal desires, and the duo join forces to solve the crimes.

Putting questions of love on the back burner, they put their own lives on the line as they search for the answer to the murderous mystery that lies just beneath the misleadingly placid surfaces of Probate, Wills and a Trust.

This is the second book in the Alicia Allen Investigates Trilogy. A Model Murder (2011) is the first.

Reviews
Celia Conrad has composed a pastiche of cozy-cerebral murder mystery “must haves” plus a fresh blend of Travelogue, Greek Tragedy, Shakespeare and Love Story.
                                                Dancing in the Experience Lane Book Reviews Blog

Alicia Allen in Australia may seem a cuddly, fluffy, Pringle-crunching koala, but when needed she can show both class and claws! Conrad sets any number of teasing possible outcomes in motion, and reserving some daring bait-and-switch manoeuvres for the final chapters. For much of the novel Alicia is in Australia while many of the key plot developments take place in England…yet the pace never slackens.
                                             Ophideide, Amazon U.K. customer review

Discussion Questions - Partial List 
(For all, please go to our Discussion Questions page)

1.  What is your opinion of the bitter family feuds and inheritance issues as they are depicted in Wilful Murder?
2. In what ways can you relate to the concept of hostile and greedy relatives and toxic family ties?
3. Since Wilful Murder is Book 2 of the Alicia Allen Investigates Trilogy, did it strike you as a “stand-alone” mystery tale, or would you suggest readers read Book 1, A Model Murder, first? What is the reason for your answer?
4. What do you see as Alicia Allen’s strengths and weaknesses as a lawyer/detective?
5. Do you agree with Alex that Alicia’s feeling of obligation to do the best for her clients goes too far sometimes?
6. What do you think about Alicia’s on/off relationship with Alex? Why do you think Alicia pushes him away when it is evident she is so attracted to him?

Wilful Murder is currently available from:

Amazon (paperback & Kindle)
Smashwords
Itunes(iBooks)
Kobo
Barnes & Noble (Nook)

Contact details

Please contact me via the Contact Form on this Blog OR:
Facebook
Twitter
Goodreads

OR through the contact page on the Alicia Allen Investigates website.

Thank you for taking the time to read this post.
Celia Conrad

Thursday, November 13, 2014

Bone up on your Puccini in this Italian Crime Romp!: New Review for Murder in Hand (Alicia Allen Investigates Book 3)...


My especial thanks to Marlan Warren for her detailed review of Murder in Hand which was first published on the Open Salon blog on 12 November 2014 entitled: “Murder in Hand”: Italian Probate, Puccini & Dead Lawyers (see below).

It's always a joy when a reader tells you that he/she enjoyed reading one of your books.

With my non-fiction legal handbooks I am pleased when a reader tells me that the book has helped because that is what the book is designed to do. With fiction it really is subjective and so it is a delight to receive a great review.

Accordingly, I'm very pleased to have received this comprehensive review of "Murder in Hand" from Marlan Warren:


“Murder in Hand”: Italian Probate, Puccini & Dead Lawyers



MIH
Lawyers aren’t the most popular people, Miss Allen…”
—Murder in Hand

In her cerebral legal mystery, Murder in Hand, Celia Conrad pulls her feisty London Probate/Estate lawyer heroine, Alicia Allen, deeper into the quagmire world of unscrupulous attorneys, the unfortunates who work with them and their unsuspecting innocent victims. In this third book of the Alicia Allen Investigates Trilogy (AAI), Conrad hits her stride as a bona fide puzzle master in the tradition of Agatha Christie. The easy-to-follow plot line keeps readers guessing and the pages turning, while great pleasures lie in Conrad’s refusal–or perhaps inability–to write for the lowest common denominator of brain power. Instead she aims for the highest.
 
 If you want to roll with Alicia Allen…better bring your A-Game (and some knowledge of the Classics wouldn’t hurt).

Murder in Hand could be enjoyed as a stand-alone book if readers don’t mind not knowing the history between the justice-loving attorney Alicia Allen and her adoring cohort Alex Waterford; her investigator friends, Jo and Will; or her cultured elderly neighbor Dorothy.
The story takes off when Alicia’s Italian American client Fabio confides that he believes someone is trying to kill him. Fabio’s family ties span New York, England and Italy/Sicily; and when his sister is killed in the midst of doing some family estate research in Italy, Alicia embarks on a quest to find the killer.
 Gianni_Schicchi_Dore_Gustav
“I can’t leave you alone for a few hours without somebody else being murdered.”—Murder in Hand
   
As in Books 1 and 2 (A Model Murder and Wilful Murder), Alicia leaps where proverbial angels fear to tread, resisting Alex’s concerns for her safety. and soon he is helping her sort the puzzle pieces as the body count goes up (with the neat twist that as they hone in, it is lawyers or their assistants who are now dropping dead). Their relationship has matured into an easy partnership built on love, trust and the potato chip that rhymes with “Tingles.” It provides a soothing stability that contrasts with the dark, random world of mayhem they are navigating together.

 Gianni Painting

“I generally advise my clients to make both a British and an Italian Will.Murder in Hand
   

Tuesday, August 19, 2014

Who is Alicia Allen? Introducing Alicia Allen and the Alicia Allen Investigates crime trilogy...




 Who is Alicia Allen?

Characterization is one of the key components in a novel so, for authors, it is crucial when creating a lead character that the “creation” will appeal to a wide range of readers. This is particularly important for any author writing a series featuring the same character and who wants readers to read the rest of the novels in that series.

A Model Murder is the first part of the Alicia Allen Investigates crime trilogy and introduces Alicia, the spirited Anglo-Italian, private client London solicitor with a passion for solving crime and for munching Pringles. I am often asked questions about where the idea of Alicia came from. The most common ones are:

1. Why is she a solicitor?
2. Why did I make her a private client solicitor?
3. Where did the idea to make her Anglo-Italian come from?
4. Why Pringles?

I believe that the old adage “write about what you know” is good advice and a very good place to begin when developing and shaping a lead character. I qualified and worked as a family lawyer before I became an author so it seemed natural for me to create a character who was a solicitor because I could write about her work as a solicitor from my own personal experience of working within the law and dealing with lawyers and clients on a daily basis. Knowing the ins-and-outs of office politics in a legal setting has been particularly useful in the plots of all three novels in the series.

I made Alicia a private client solicitor rather than a criminal lawyer because it was a slightly different angle. Additionally, as a private client solicitor dealing with Wills and Inheritance there is much scope for corruption and murder and something which Alicia particularly discovers in the course of her work in Wilful Murder and Murder in Hand, the second and third books in the trilogy.

The Italian influence comes from being an Italophile with a love of the language, country and culture and that is a theme running through all the books. I also have an Italian background from way back which is probably why the influence is so strong and the desire to express it on paper. When I was researching for Murder in Hand, half of which is set in Italy, I came across some very interesting cases in Italy of family inheritances vanishing in mysterious circumstances, which sparked the idea for the plot.

Why Pringles? Pringles seems a very good fit for Alicia’s personality as once you start eating them you cannot stop and in the same way once Alicia begins investigating a case she feels compelled to press on whatever the consequences. And I think it is an engaging side to her personality. She has her foibles and that makes her very human.

You can read the latest news and media on the Alicia Allen Investigates crime trilogy at the Alicia Allen Investigates website

Further details on: 


Thank you for reading this post. If you have any comments please send them to me through this blog or contact me on Facebook or Twitter

Thursday, August 7, 2014

5 STAR SEAL FROM READERS' FAVORITE FOR "A MODEL MURDER"





Knowing that Readers' Favorite reviews books for industry icons such as Random House, Penguin Group, Harper Collins, Simon & Schuster, Hachette and many independent authors and publishers I decided to submit my crime novel, A Model Murder, which is book 1 of the Alicia Allen Investigates trilogy to them for review.

I was delighted to receive the following 5 star review from them today and the accompanying 5 star seal.

A Model Murder by Celia Conrad is an appealing new modern crime story. Alicia lives in England and is half Italian and I quickly found myself rooting for her. Alicia is a lawyer who is starting a new job in a law firm that turns out to be not exactly what she had expected. Her neighbor Tammy, trying hard to become a model, is raped and murdered while working at a low life hostess club. Tammy’s roommate Kim is absolutely devastated by the murder and begs Alicia for her help. Dorothy, an elderly lady living in the same flat, is badly beaten for what she has seen. At Kim’s urging, Alicia investigates and is faced with threats and near death experiences. It becomes difficult to be sure which of her friends to trust and which are really not whom they appear to be. Twists and turns abound as we are taken into the sleazy nightclub world and the inner workings of a law firm looking for the killer rapist.

It took me a while to get used to some of the British dialogue and I have no idea of what the Italian phrases sprinkled throughout meant, but it made no difference in the reading of A Model Murder. I was hooked on page one and completely and pleasantly surprised when I reached the conclusion. A Model Murder is subtitled Alicia Allen Investigates 1 and I am anxiously awaiting number 2. Celia Conrad has jumped to the top of my favorite author list and Alicia Allen is without a doubt my favorite new fictional lawyer/investigator crime solver. This book should be on the top of every woman’s reading list.

To read more about Reader's Favorite click here.

A Model Murder and the other two parts of the Alicia Allen Investigates trilogy, Wilful Murder & Murder in Hand are available from:

Amazon UK
Amazon US


Monday, July 28, 2014

"Wow Review of Wow Crime Novel" as featured in the NEW BOOK REVIEW

I feel very privileged that Marlan Warren's wonderful review of "A Model Murder" has been featured on the New Book Review blog. 

As it states on the blog:

"The New Book Review is blogged by Carolyn Howard-Johnson, author of the multi award-winning HowToDoItFrugally series of books for writers. It is a free service offered to those who want to encourage the reading of books they love. That includes authors who want to share their favorite reviews, reviewers who'd like to see their reviews get more exposure, and readers who want to shout out praise of books they've read."

If you are an author seeking for a featured review you simply follow the submission guidelines on the blog. Reviews and essays are indexed by genre, reviewer names, and review sites. It is also a great way for readers to discover new authors.

Reviews are very important to authors so a blog such as this is an invaluable resource.

If you have time check it out here.

If you have any comments send me a Tweet at @Iwrite2b
Connect with me on Facebook Celia Conrad Author U.K. or message me through this site.

A Model Murder which is Book 1 of the Alicia Allen Investigates crime trilogy can be found at Amazon.

Sunday, July 6, 2014

New Book Review: "WILFUL MURDER" UNTANGLES BLOODY FAMILY TREE


I'm just delighted with this perceptive Open Salon review of "Wilful Murder" (the second book in my Alicia Allen Investigates Trilogy) that posted a couple days ago. Thank you!
Book Review
 "Wilful Murder" Untangles Bloody Family Tree.
Look to the past to see what the future holds. —Wilful Murder 
Who doesn't enjoy a ripping good tale of a Will, murdered relatives and love's labor rewarded? For Wilful Murder, the second book in the Alicia Allen Investigates trilogy, British author Celia Conrad has concocted a pastiche composed of the basic elements we expect in a murder mystery that spins on disgruntled relatives, and reinvented it as part-Travelogue, part-Greek Tragedy, part-Shakespeare and part-Love Story. 
 If you love "cozy mysteries" with their gentle no-sex-or-graphic-violence paradigms, and strong, intuitive female amateur sleuths; and you love "cerebral mysteries" with their complicated Ah Ha! plots, then I highly recommend Wilful Murder for your next great read.



And if you know nothing about cozies or cerebrals, but just love a bittersweet romantic subplot where a dynamic duo slug it out until they (almost) fall into each other's arms á la Hepburn and Tracy--then yes, this book's for you too. 
I do suggest reading Book 1, A Model Murder, first. Although  few of the first book's characters and almost none of its setting make their way into the second, there's little exposition to bring the newbie up to speed in terms of what has happened in the past to create the present circumstances that open the story.
 In the previous book, Alicia Allen--the Anglo-Italian woman lawyer with a passion for justice--makes friends with an Australian neighbor who works at the law firm where Alicia has just been newly hired.  The young, pretty Australian, Kim, has a crush on her boss, Alex, who in turn has a thing for the incomparable Alicia.
At the end of A Model Murder, Alicia and Alex appear to be merrily strolling off into the sunset. But alas, they are not a couple by the time we revisit Alicia in London. 

As Wilful Murder opens, Alicia is preparing to go to Kim's wedding in Australia. She is now estranged from Alex who once courted her, but took off to work in Singapore. They are still in touch, but Alicia carries resentment at Alex's decision to distance himself from her.
 "I don't think you can afford to trust anyone..."
Alicia Allen is nothing if not cautious. She is not a heroine who wears her heart on her sleeve, and in this, not unlike Patricia Cornwall's psychologically wounded medical examiner Kay Scarpetta. Like Scarpetta, Alicia plays her cards close to her chest. She's not one to swoon when Alex appears again--this time in Australia for Kim's wedding. For his part, Alex wants nothing more than to woo Alicia, and he nearly turns himself inside out trying.



Alicia has other things on her mind by the time she crosses paths with the most-desirable-man-on-earth (aka "Alex"). Before leaving London, she took on a client with more troubles than her own: Isabelle Parker, an heiress who is about to come into a magnificent fortune, if she can stay alive long enough to inherit it. Relatives and relatives-to-be have been dropping like proverbial flies, and the body count grows as the plot proceeds.
Having read Book 1, we know that Alicia would rather find the killer or killers than opt for a romantic fling with her ex-boyfriend while she travels Australia on a kind of "working" holiday to investigate the Australian-British ancestral ties of the endangered heiress.
She visits lovely beachy spots, dines in charming cafes on exotic fare and visits museums--without her solicitious solicitor suitor in tow. Quite frankly, those of us who might be lying boyfriendless on some beach reading Wilful Murder may wish to slap some sense into this righteous heroine, but thereis still that voice inside our heads that shouts, "You go, Girl!" when she finally gets physical in a life-threatening clinch with the killer as the story approaches its denouement.  
Conrad arranges for Alex to be out of the picture for quite some time, and we are left to follow Alicia's head as she works out the puzzle to solve these crimes. This is true to the "cerebral" mystery style, and reminiscent of Agatha Christie's careful detailing and construction. The plot is chock full of minor characters: most of whom we barely get to know.

In the first chapter, Isabelle's statements regarding her ancestral history were so complex, I ended up mapping it out on paper so I could keep track of who's who.
One of Conrad's great strengths is dialogue. I found that if I simply "saw" the story as a film and let the dialogue carry me through, A Wilful Murder came to vivid life in my mind's eye. 
"What are the two things most people kill for?" 


An ominous note received by imminent victims warns:
"Look to the past to see what the future holds and make recompense for what those before  you have done..." 
Conrad's handling of "the past" as it pertains to Isabelle's tangled family tree gives a (perhaps unwitting) nod to the Greek tragedy, Oedipus Rex. The play is made up mostly of exposition. We hear about the past...the past...the past. The gory action of Oedipus gouging out his eyes when he realizes he's married his mother is saved for the end. Conrad saves up her big action scenes for the end--after we have been put through the wringer of cerebral dialogue that examines the unaswered questions of the Past.

"Indecisive." 

"Indecisive" is one of the last words in the book, and reflects this tale's Hamlet aspects. Yes, Alicia catches the bouquet, but it has no more active effect on her than Hamlet seeing his father's ghost. There is also something Shakespearean in the way Conrad tends to kill off her characters "offstage," so news of their demise are brought by messengers.
When the story comes together at the end--revealing truths, tying up some loose ends and leaving others still hanging--it leaves the reader feeling winded and yet oddly trimphant having made it across the various locales and dangers that abide in Wilful Murder, and having found tourist pleasures in the Land Down Under and returned to Great Britain, while still trying to figure out whodunit.
Wilful Murder is built around the fine art of looking at the past--where we came from, what made us who we are today, the skeletons in our closets that we may or may not know about, and it prompts questions about whether we can make positive changes such as opening our hearts again to someone in spite of all we've been through or whatever pain still resides in our DNA.
Looking forward to the last book in the trilogy, Murder in Hand and its take on Sicilian corruption. Brava, Celia! 
Sell Sheet Information
Title: Wilful Murder             Author: Celia Conrad        Publisher: Barcham Books (1 Dec 2011) 
Paperback: 336 pages          ISBN-10: 0954623339     ISBN-13: 978-0954623333 
Dimensions: 14.9 x 21 cm

Amazon Kindle - ASIN: B00A1NCNRO
Also available in all E-Book Formats 
Amazon U.S.:
Twitter | iwrite2b
Facebook | Celia Conrad Author 


Monday, June 30, 2014

A New Approach to Shared Parenting


Anyone who has read my legal handbook Fathers Matter will have an appreciation of my views in relation to shared parenting.

“Equally shared parenting” is, of course, a controversial topic. There are many organizations promoting equally shared parenting (ESP) but what is striking about Leading Women for Shared Parenting (LW4SP) is the organization’s approach to the issue.

That is because LW4SP is an International Children’s Advocacy Organization and, as such, its whole focus in on advocating change in family law for the benefit of the children not the parents – in fact LW4SP’s twofold approach to ESP could not be clearer: 

1.     A belief in the natural right of children to love and be loved by both their parents and how best to facilitate that for the benefit of all the parties involved; and
2.     A very clear definition of ESP which is that “children should spend no less than 35% residential time sharing as a baseline minimum with each parent” save where there has been a substantiated finding of “abuse, neglect or abandonment” in which case a parenting plan should be devised which is consistent with the findings and what is in the best interest of the child.

LW4SP’s definition of shared parenting1 and its position that there should be a rebuttable presumption of ESP as the starting point in all family law matters involving sharing children’s time between parents, is in line with the extensive research and emerging consensus on what is in the best interests of children after separation.

It is only possible within such a short article to set out a fraction of the pertinent research by distinguished experts and academics in the field of family law and child development, but in the 2010 paper Custody and Parenting Time: Links to Family Relationships and Well-being after Divorce2 the authors make the following statements:

“There now appears to be a strong consensus among the general public that under normal circumstances, equal parenting time is best for the child.3

“And there is strong evidence, backed by theory, for relations between parent-child relationships and child outcomes. These findings show benefits up to and including equal parenting time…4

“An emerging consensus is that the minimum of one third-time is necessary to achieve this criterion and that benefits continue to accrue as parenting time reaches equal  (50-50) time.5

These findings are confirmed in a 2014 press release by Dr Richard Warshak, which was endorsed by 110 of the World’s most prominent child development experts, in which he states that shared parenting can even be appropriate for children under the age of four.6

And what about cases where there is inter-parental conflict? Until recently it has been assumed that shared parenting is impossible in conflicted families but the 2010 paper referred to above concludes that unless the inter-parental conflict was severe or violent it should not be used to justify restrictions on children’s access to either of their parents.7 Furthermore, in a 2011 paper8 the findings were that it is not shared parenting that damages children, but conflict, and that there needs to be more emphasis on programs to reduce that conflict.

And in an interesting 2013 article The Causal Effects of Father Absence9 the authors conclude that there is, “strong evidence that father absence negatively affects children’s social-emotional development, particularly by increasing externalizing behavior…10” Although the article is about father absence it is important to note that this is not a gender issue and there are also cases where the mother is absent, but the fact remains that it is fathers who are most likely to become “absented” by the family court process.

This research demonstrates that children benefit most from the active involvement of both parents in their lives. The “one-third time” referred to relates to the time a child needs in order to effectively bond with a parent (mother or father) so as to enable that child to build a quality relationship. The research also demonstrates the detrimental and dire social consequences for children where a parent is “absented” from their lives.

Where there is no abuse, neglect or abandonment, LW4SP advocates that Government policy and laws must be structured in such a way as to maximize the opportunity of all parents to contribute to the social, emotional, intellectual, physical, moral and spiritual development of their children. This can only be in the children’s best interests.


Celia Conrad is a former family solicitor, freelance legal writer and UK member of LW4SP. She is also the author of Fathers Matter: The essential guide to contact on separation & divorce http://www.fathersmatter.com/

This article has been written on behalf of LW4SP and the views expressed are in accordance with LW4SP’s Mission Statement. For more information on LW4SP contact: http://lw4sp.org/



1 http://lw4sp.org/definition-of-equally-shared-parenting/
2 Researched and written by Fabricius W V, Braver S L, Diaz P & Velez C E and appearing in Lamb, Michael E (Ed) book The Role of the Father in Child Development (5th Edition) John Wiley & Sons 2012. Michael Lamb is a recognized authority on the role of fathers in child development.
3 Ibid, p. 8
4 Ibid, p. 250
5 Ibid, p. 254
6 Experts Agree: Infants and Toddlers Need Overnight Care from both Parents after their Separation, Dr Richard Warshak, Clinical Professor of Psychiatry at the University of Texas Southwestern Medical Centre in Dallas.
7 Ibid, p. 251
8 18. William V. Fabricius, 2011; The bad news about Divorce and Children is worse than we thought, but the good news is better than we thought (7 July 2011)
9 Annu. Rev. Sociol. 2013. 39:399-427 researched by Sara McLanahan of Princeton University; Laura Tach of Cornell University & Daniel Schneider of the University of Berkeley, California
10 Ibid, 39:422

Tuesday, May 27, 2014

CELIA CONRAD INTERVIEW: "A Model Murder" (In hostess clubs and law firms, no one can hear you scream.)

I am happy to report that during its 3-day offer, A Model Murder had over 4,000 downloads onto Kindle devices as I participated in Amazon's Kindle Direct Publishing Select program "Giveaway"!

A Model Murder is still available on Amazon in paperback and as a Kindle e-book ($4.99). Links for the paperback on Amazon are below, and the Kindle version can be found at:
http://www.amazon.com/Model-Murder-Alicia-Allen-Investigates-ebook/dp/product-description/B00A0OKLIC

THANK YOU:
Amazon, KDP, Shelf Buzz, Omnimystery News, Carolyn InJoy, Cannonball Read, and Italophile gave such amazing support. Very grateful to Shelf Buzz for featuring AMM for its June 2 "Today’s Picks—Best Free Kindle Books" (http://shelfbuzz.com/handpicked-kindle-books-jun-1-judged-covers/) , and Omnimystery News for doing the same!

DISCUSSION GUIDE:
The Discussion Guide can be located on this blog, and on the Lit Lovers website under "A Model Murder" at: http://www.litlovers.com/reading-guides/13-fiction/9690-model-murder-conrad

In case you missed it, here's the Interview that went out prior to the Giveaway (it was picked up off the newswire by several sites including BWW Books (Broadway World) and the BBC Record:

Title: A Model Murder (Book 1)
Author: Celia Conrad
Series: Alicia Allen Investigates Trilogy
Genre: Crime Fiction
Publisher: Barcham Books
Paperback     Pages 341                   ISBN-13: 978-0954623326   SBN-10: 0954623320
Release Date: Sept. 15, 2011
Kindle Edition   ASIN: B00A0OKLIC
File Size: 568 KB    Simultaneous Device Usage: Unlimited
Edition 1 (Nov. 1 2012)   Amazon Digital Services, Inc.
Language: English                Text-to-Speech: Enabled

Author Interview with "Tough Little Cookie" Celia Conrad: The British author speaks out on abuse of women in hostess clubs and law firms, and praises Amazon's KDP Select Program for E-Book Success of A Model Murder




"He told me he was used to getting what he wanted." 
A Model Murder

What do law firms and hostess clubs have in common? The answer lies at the heart of British author Celia Conrad’s “A Model Murder,” a crime fiction novel featuring the murder of a young model moonlighting as a stripper and the harassed-at-work London woman lawyer who sets out to bring the murderer to justice.

The thriller appeared on the literary scene in 2011 before news events made its plot points seem positively prescient. Last April, a stripper was found murdered after work in Atlanta, Ga.; and last year, a gender discrimination lawsuit against a prominent American law firm settled in favor of its women lawyers.





Los Angeles journalist Marlan Warren (MW) caught up with Celia Conrad (CC) to discuss the origins of “A Model Murder” (AMM) and why publisher Barcham Books has decided to launch the e-book as a giveaway via Amazon’s Kindle Direct Publishing (KDP) Select program May 31 through June 2.

MW: In AMM, the moonlighting model tells someone, "He told me he was used to getting what he wanted..." when describing an aggressive club customer. Later your heroine Alicia Allen also encounters this attitude with the boss at her law firm. You had a career in London working "within the law" (as they say in the U.K.). How much of your own lawyer experiences found their way into Alicia's world?

CC: AMM is autobiographical in parts, which probably makes this story even darker because it is real. The legal profession is still male dominated despite what we are told about more women qualifying or more women reaching top jobs. I think for a young woman within the law it can still be quite hard.

MW: What kind of research did you do?

CC: While I was doing a little modeling, I met a model who worked in a club to supplement her income. To research, I talked with women at the clubs. They told me how they got treated depended on the "boss." They had to generate money for the club by being "nice," but the degree of how “nice” came from the top. Some bosses looked after their employees better than others. Some women felt pressured, and some did not.

MW: What’s your opinion of the recent lawsuits in the U.S. and U.K. that complain about gender discrimination in the workplace?

CC: I am sure there is still a lot of bullying. In terms of sexual harassment, the laws have tightened but I'm sure it still goes on and women are reluctant to speak out for fear of repercussions.



MW: Your heroine is a half-Anglo/half-Italian lawyer living in London with a passion for justice and a chip that rhymes with “Singles.” How much of yourself is in Alicia?

CC: Like me, she looks vulnerable, but she’s a tough little cookie. And I do love potato chips. We also share tenacity, passion and curiosity. I made Alicia half-Italian because I love Italy. I wanted her to be sharp-witted, warm-hearted and likeable with moral fiber, backbone and sincerity. She’s a private client lawyer as that’s the area I would have gone into if I hadn't done family law. I only wish I’d thought of her retorts when I was working within the law.

MW: What kind of feedback have you gotten from readers regarding the male characters?

CC: Some readers start out hating Ivano (an aggressive Italian character), but then he makes them cry. Alicia's Italian friend Cesare is seen as a "sweetie," and everyone enjoys the banter between Alicia and her coworker/love interest Alex.

MW: What were the circumstances surrounding the publication of AMM?

CC: I wrote AMM at the suggestion of my then-agent and mentor, Paul Marsh, who encouraged me to write a mystery based on my experiences as a lawyer; and I added my brief experiences as a model. Unfortunately Paul passed away before AMM was published. At the time of its release, my mother’s health was failing and I lost her last year. I was too immersed in personal turbulence to focus on promoting the Alicia Allen Investigates trilogy (AMM is Book 1). Hopefully the free Kindle e-book offer will attract a fresh crop of readers and stimulate interest. It will remain for sale in paperback

MW: What is your writing process?

CC: I jot down notes in pencil and then plot the book out. Then I work the plot backwards, having decided on whodunit and the red-herrings. The actual writing took about 8 weeks. I edit as I read aloud: something Paul taught me to do.

MW: How can people find the paperback?

CC: It can be ordered through Amazon, Barcham Books and Alicia Allen Investigates websites. And it’s in libraries all over the U.K.

MW: Two books follow AMM in the series: “Wilful Murder” and “Murder in Hand.” The former takes readers to Australia and has a plot that turns on a string of murdered relatives and a multimillion dollar Will, and the latter takes your heroine into the depths of corruption in Sicily. Did Paul Marsh assist in the crafting of these books as well?

CC: Yes. Before he died, Paul had read both books and was really happy with them. He believed Alicia is a great character who deserved to find her audience. That endorsement has always pushed me on.

To download the free Kindle version during the 3-day offer (5/31-6/2/14), go to Amazon at http://www.amazon.ca/Model-Murder-Alicia-Allen-Investigates-ebook/dp/B00A0OKLIC  and "buy" it for $0.

Friday, April 25, 2014

Harrowing Scene from "A Model Murder"



EXTRACT FROM A MODEL MURDER:
 “Did I not make it perfectly clear to you before that there are certain matters in this firm which are no concern of yours?” He pointed his finger at me as he walked towards me, causing me to walk backwards so that I was now standing against the wall. He put his arms on the wall either side of me, so effectively I was pinned against it with him standing over me.
“Yes,” I responded, looking up at him.
“Then what the fuck are you doing asking Teresa’s secretary questions which are of no relevance to your work here?” he screamed. He was so close to me that I could smell his tobacco breath and I turned my head to the side to avoid it.
“There must be some misunderstanding,” I replied. “I’m only carrying out the work Andy left me.”
“You couldn’t leave it alone, could you, Alicia?” He was menacing. “You know what they say about people who mess with fire?” he added, taking his arms away from the wall. He reached into his right suit pocket, took out a lighter and repeatedly flicked it open and shut within millimetres of my face. “They get burned.”
I closed my eyes for a second, then opened them and swallowed hard. My heart was pounding, I felt hot and sick and I could not speak. He paused. “And we couldn’t have that happening to you, could we?”

***
Thank you, Marlan Warren, for featuring this passage from my mystery novel on your Facebook Book Publicity by Marlan page today (as the "Book del Giorno").