Did You Know . . .?

DRAGON FRUIT is the third in Karen Keskinen’s Jaymie Zarlin series set in California.  Here, she tells us the background to Chicano Caló.

9780727886248Chicano slang, popular in the American West and Southwest, is perhaps better called Chicano Caló. While influenced by a number of factors, its roots lie in Spanish Caló, an argot developed by Spanish gypsies. Caló was brought to the new world by the conquistadores in the 15th century, and survived for hundreds of years in remote villages in what is now the state of New Mexico. Words like bomba (a lowrider car) or borlo (party) are examples of Chicano Caló.

Characters in my novel DRAGON FRUIT use Chicano Caló words from time to time. Gabi Gutierrez, office manager for P.I. Jaymie Zarlin, might dismiss a new blouse as chafa (low-quality) or a man as a borracho – a drunk. That’s because the Jaymie Zarlin mysteries are set in the city of Santa Bruta – Santa Barbara – in the great state of Califas!

Karen Keskinen was born in Salinas, California. She has also lived in California’s San Joaquin Valley and in Wellington, New Zealand. She now resides in Santa Barbara where she is a full-time writer. She is the author of BLOOD ORANGE and BLACK CURRENT.

For more information on Dragon Fruit, please visit our website!


Did You Know. . .?

9780727886361This week’s interesting facts are from Don Bruns, author of CASTING BONES – a brand new voodoo mystery series set in New Orleans, introducing homicide detective Quentin Archer

Louisiana has more private prisons than any other State in the Union, and Louisiana has more prisoners per capita than any country in the world. Entire towns depend completely on the business of private prisons. Casting Bones explores the possibility of corruption in the prison system, the judicial system and law enforcement. Powerful business men, organized crime and shady politicians have always played a part in Louisiana’s history.

Don Bruns is an award-winning novelist, songwriter, musician and advertising executive living in South Florida. He is the author of five Mick Sever Caribbean mysteries and seven Lesser and Moore mysteries.

For more information on Casting Bones please visit our website.

Author trivia – Cora Harrison

“As a child I missed school from the age of about seven until I was fifteen, due to continual attacks of pneumonia, pleurisy, chronic bronchitis, asthma and rheumatic fever. I don’t think it did my education much harm as the house was full of Victorian novels and, by the time I was ten, I had read every word of Dickens, Trollope, and Thackeray etc. – some books again and again. And once, when suffering great pain from pneumonia, I taught myself Latin from the hospital nurse/nun’s prayer book! I do find it extraordinary, though, that no one thought of providing me with a teacher.”

Cora Harrison is the author of the Reverend Mother Mysteries set in Cork in the 1920s. The most recent entry in this series is A SHOCKING ASSASSINATION. She has also written thirteen titles in the Burren Mysteries, set in 15th Century Ireland; most recently A FATAL INHERITANCE

Did you know…?

9780727886149This week’s feature has been supplied by Gerald Elias, author of PLAYING WITH FIRE.

Did you know that the violin was invented more than 400 years ago? In the city of Brescia, Italy, a master luthier named Gasparo da Salo created an instrument that surpassed all previous families of string instruments regarding the quality of tone production. Unlike the viola, cello, or string bass, all of which can have a radical range in size and shape, the dimensions of the violin Gasparo crafted have remained the standard to this day.

Between Gasparo and his students, Brescia quickly became the violin-making capital of Europe and remained so until fate intervened. The plague struck Brescia in 1630 and nearly wiped out the city. Nearby Cremona miraculously escaped the epidemic, and there the craft of violin-making reached even greater heights. Astonishingly, the quality of the Cremonese violins made by the Guarneri and Amati families, and by Antonio Stradivari in the late 1600s and early 1700s, has never been surpassed.

Many makers have attempted to copy the instruments of the great makers; most out of reverence and to improve their own craftsmanship, but others in order to profit by pawning off fakes as original Stradivaris, which is not so surprising when one considers that the most expensive instruments can sell for more than $10 million. As similar as violins might appear to the lay person, no two violins are identical, so identifying the hundreds of makers of instruments that may be centuries old is a finely honed skill, and there are only a handful of experts in the whole world whose opinions are universally recognized.

Most people would think that the paramount consideration when calculating the value of a violin would be its sound. That is certainly important for the musician who plays it! But in terms of market value, the primary considerations are: who the maker is, how sure we are about that, and what condition the instrument is in. If the instrument were previously owned by a famous violinist or public figure, that would also add to its value. Though how it sounds is a much more subjective consideration, there’s no doubt of the amazing ability of such a small, acoustic instrument to create a sound that can fill an immense concert hall with the most beautiful tones ever devised by man!

More information on PLAYING WITH FIRE

Editor’s Pick – The Killing Ship

9780727886392Our Editor’s Pick for July has been chosen by Emma Sudderick, who selected Simon Beaufort’s THE KILLING SHIP. 

This month we are very excited to introduce the new title from Simon Beaufort, THE KILLING SHIP. Best known for the Sir Geoffrey Mappestone medieval mysteries, Simon Beaufort’s (pseudonym for Susanna Gregory and Beau Riffenburgh) latest title is a departure from historical murders.

Instead, we are transported to the Antarctic, where a group of environmental scientists find their research expedition disrupted by illegal whalers. When they are spotted by the whaling vessel, the scientists fall under attack. As they scale the volatile terrain, overcoming the dangers of the extreme environment, they discover a far more sinister reason behind the vessel’s unusual movements, one which the hostile crew are very willing to kill for.

A true psychological thriller, with heart-thumping moments of pure fear, it handles important themes of environmental preservation and juggles it with the chilling elements of a survival novel. If you want an edge-of-seat thriller packed with action and suspense this summer, I’d definitely recommend this.

Author background

About the author Upon leaving the police force, Susanna Gregory  conducted post-graduate studies at the University of Durham before earning a PhD at the University of Cambridge. Her primary post-doctoral research investigated environmental contamination in the world’s seal population by looking at the build-up of pollutants – particularly heavy metals – in the teeth and bones of different seal species. She has also done fieldwork with whales and walruses, and has spent seventeen field seasons working with marine mammals in the Arctic or Antarctic, as well as many years lecturing on Antarctic tourist ships. At the undergraduate and graduate level, she has taught and supervised research in comparative anatomy and biological anthropology. She has also served as an environmental consultant, including working on the Greenpeace Climate Change Database.

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