Today we are really pleased to welcome bestselling author Amanda Quick to Alternative-Read.com
Close Up by Amanda Quick blends together the historical, suspense, and a tinge of the romance genres. Through a gripping mystery, readers also get a glimpse of the 1930s Hollywood-type glamour of California.
The books opens with Vivian Brazier rushing to a crime scene to take photographs of a murder. Cut off from her family’s funds for pursuing her dream, a career in art, to make ends meet she takes crime scene photos and headshots for aspiring male actors. Keeping her photo-journalistic career secret, she must balance this world with the world of an art photographer.
After photographing the murder of a movie star, she realizes details that can help the police find the “Dagger Killer.” Able to look at details of a photo that many others could not, Vivian finds clues to help the homicide detectives. Unfortunately, this puts her life in danger. Private investigator Nick Sundridge is hired by a mysterious third party to protect her. Together they try to find the hitman by narrowing down the list of suspects. Just as Vivian can see things others do not, Nick also has that ability. The difference is that she sees through a cameras’ lens, while he sees through his dreams and visions. This talent, or curse as he refers to it, allows him to become a brilliant investigator.
Through their need to live together the hero and heroine’s personality, along with very snappy dialogue, become prevalent. They are both compelling people who are smart, daring, competent, and flawed. Vivian is talented, bold, independent, and, savvy, a very modern woman for that time who is very much career oriented. Nick is sarcastic, honorable, talented, and pragmatic. His partner Rex many times steals the scenes. This trained side-kick is a loveable German Shepherd who is extremely faithful.
The attraction between the two is first felt by Nick. The relationship is not one where opposites attract, but one where both characters are accepting of each other. She was not put off by his “curse,” and he was not put off by a woman wanting to have a career.
This novel has very interesting characters, and a plot with mystery twists. The action begins on the first page and continues until the last page.
Elise Cooper: How did you get the idea for the story?
Amanda Quick: I like to write my books with a sense of timelessness. I want to create a feeling of a more contemporary time, which is the 1930s. So much today originated back then including, dog food in cans, Twinkies, women wearing pants, and women athletics.
EC: Why the photography angle?
AQ: I thought it would be an interesting job for my heroine. There were famous ones in the 1930s including Dorothea Lange who was best known for her Depression-era work. I also thought of iconic scenes in films where photographers arrive at the crime with their chunky cameras and flashy lightbulbs. It was how black and white photography established an image of Noir. This resonates with people. I thought it would be interesting to write about the conflict between Modernism and Pictorialism.
EC: Do you have a hobby of photography?
AQ: You mean back in a time when photography was more than an i-phone photo? My brother has always enjoyed it and even set up his own dark room. He helped me a lot with the technical details including the history. He considers this his passionate hobby.
EC: Why the setting in Adelina Beach?
AQ: I wanted to create that mythical Hollywood California. The iconic picture of a picturesque California town.
EC: There is a psychic element?
AQ: It gives the story a vibe and keeps the books from following into a traditional police procedural. I do not think there is too much and consider it just one step beyond intuition. There is a fine line between those who are really talented that can observe something that others do not see and someone with a psychic sense. Their sense of awareness allows them to see what others do not.
EC: How would you describe Vivian?
AQ: Ambitious, independent, a dreamer, and the rebel of her family because she is career-oriented. She is from a wealthy shipping San Francisco family. When looking through her camera lens she is calm and focused, but at other times she struggles with her life.
EC: She is not cut-throat?
AQ: Correct. The opening scene has a famous actor coming to the crime scene. She was about to take his picture, but after he begs her not to, she backs away. I based the character movie stars and the movie titles on real people of the time.
EC: How would you describe Nick?
AQ: He grew up having this strange ability to do psychic dreaming. He likes to be in control because it creates a structured world. He sees the psychic element as something he cannot control so he tries to control other aspects of his life.
EC: Rex is Nick’s partner?
AQ: I based him on the famous 1930s dog Rin Tin Tin. He is a German Shepherd who bonded with Nick after being found behind a garbage can. Through Rex I think readers can see Nick is a good guy. Because Rex accepts and understands Nick it makes him feel a sense of normalcy. I think dogs add something to a story.
EC: A secondary character is Vivian’s sister, Lyra?
AQ: She is the younger sister who looks up to Vivian. While Vivian is considered the rebel, Lyra was always considered the “good sister.” She secretly envied her older sister. Because she idolized Vivian she decided to follow in her footsteps. I think both are adventurous, daring, and impulsive.
EC: How would you describe the relationship between Vivian and Nick?
AQ: Vivian sees beyond the surface of who Nick is. They are two of a kind and have a unique understanding of each other. Both see themselves and the world they live in uniquely. I like to compare the relationship to photography since it played such an important role in the story. For example, this quote by Vivian shows how similar they both are, ‘Your fever dreaming sounds a lot like what I do when I focus my camera. I open my senses, my inner eye, and try to see beneath the surface…It’s called intuition, Nick. Neither one of us is crazy.’ Nick responds, “You’ve known me for less than two days, but you know more about me…more than anyone else.”
EC: What about your next book(s)?
AQ: The next Amanda Quick book will have a new couple. I do not repeat because I do not want to introduce a new problem into the relationship, especially since they had their happy ending. Nick and Vivian will be in the next story as side characters because the heroine is Lyra. She will have to help save Raina who is kidnapped. Readers might remember Raina from the “Burning Cove series” earlier books.
My next Jayne Krentz book will be out in January and is entitled, All The Colors of Night. It is a sequel to The Vanishing. It will continue the overarching story of what the government did in this small town of Fogg Lake, where an experiment went awry. The descendants of this town have psychic abilities. North Chastain and Sierra Raines will be the hero and heroine.
If you liked this interview
‘Quick’s ambitious novel, set during the golden age of Hollywood, sparkles with wit and clever plotting’ Publishers Weekly
Welcome to Burning Cove, California where 1930s Hollywood glamour conceals a ruthless killer . . .
Vivian Brazier never thought life as an art photographer would include headshots for aspiring celebrities or nightly calls to take snaps of grisly murders . . .
When she’s called to take photos of a famous actress, the latest victim of the ‘Dagger Killer’, Vivian notices eerie similarities to previous crime scenes. Details that only a photographer would have noticed. Details that put Vivian right at the top of the killer’s target list.
Nick Sundridge has always been able to ‘see’ things that others don’t. His talent, along with his dark past, makes him a recluse, but a brilliant investigator. When Nick is sent to protect Vivian, together they discover that the Dagger Killer has ties to the glitz and glamour of Hollywood royalty and high society. It’s a cutthroat world of allure and deception that Vivian and Nick must traverse in order to uncover the killer who will stop at nothing to add them to their gallery of murders . . .
‘A master storyteller’ The Huffington Post
Book Beginnings / First Chapter First Paragraph / Tuesday Teaser!