Janis Thornton is visiting Ascroft, eh? today to tell us about Love, Lies and Azure Eyes, her romantic suspence novel.
Welcome, Janis. Let’s get started, shall we?
Tell us about your novel. Is it part of a series? If so, please tell us about the series, too.
JT: “Love, Lies, and Azure Eyes” tells what happens when freelance journalist Annie Sinclair journeys from Los Angeles to her rural Indiana hometown to investigate the 25-year-old unsolved murder of her high school classmate, Shelayne Goodnight. Unexpectedly, Annie comes face to face with the ghost of another classmate, Johnny Lange, the boy accused of killing Shelayne. While Annie helps Johnny find Shelayne’s killer, he helps Annie find her happily-ever-after. “Love, Lies, and Azure Eyes” is all about possibilities for second chances, righting old wrongs, and finding love that lasts forever.
It is a stand-alone, and I have no plans for a sequel … but who knows?
Where did the idea for the mystery that is central to the story come from?
JT: The inspiration for my story is derived from a tragic incident that rocked my hometown during my senior year of high school. The incident was the mysterious death of a girl in my class whose body was found along a remote country road two days after she went missing. One of the suspects was another of my classmates, a boy who unfortunately was killed in a car crash six months later. Today, even after almost 54 years, the girl’s death remains unsolved, and many people in town still insist her killer was the boy.
I’ve always been bothered by my classmates’ tragic endings and never stopped wondering why she died and who abandoned her on that road. Because it’s unlikely I will ever know, I concocted my own answers by novelizing their stories.
Is there a theme or subject that underlies the story? If so, what prompted you to write about it?
JT: Themes can be tricky because they are often difficult to identify. “Love, Lies, and Azure Eyes” is driven by a number of underlying themes — among them are doubt, regret, deceit, injustice, vindication, forgiveness, rebirth, and love. But, by far, love drives most of the story. And in this instance, love is explored not simply as romantic love, but also familial love, love between friends, unrequited love, controlling love, self love, and true love.
How do you create your characters? Do you have favourite ones? If so, why are you partial to them?
JT: I must admit that when I’m developing characters for a new writing project, everyone I know is fodder. It’s fortunate for authors that gestures, facial expressions, vocal intonations, body types, attitudes, habits, etc. aren’t subject to copyright. If they were, we’d be in trouble.
All my characters are like children to me, so I can’t help but love them all. (Even the dastardly Logan McKuen.) One of my most favorites is Annie’s father, Charlie Sinclair. That’s because I loosely based him on my own father, Bill Thornton. My dad was not a gruff man, as Charlie is, but Charlie is a good and honest man like my dad. Also, my dad had a habit of calling me “Girl” from my earliest memory of him until the day he died. Like my dad, Charlie calls his daughter “Girl” instead of her name. For these reasons, when I reread passages in the book that feature Charlie, I see and hear my dad, and that’s why I’m partial to Charlie.
How do you bring to life the place you are writing about?
JT: My fictional town in which this story is set is much like my hometown — a small farming community in central Indiana with an abundance of colorful settings. Using some of those surroundings in the story helped me inject authenticity into the backdrop as my characters go about their business.
In addition, I attempted to breathe life into the settings by describing selective details that appeal to the reader’s five senses — sight, smell, sound, taste, and touch. Sometimes it’s difficult to write all five into a scene, and sometimes appealing to all five isn’t necessary. However, there’s a balance that must be struck. Too little sensory detail may cause the reader to get lost in the narrative. Include too much and they will nod off.
What research do you do to provide background information to help you write the novel?
JT: Even though “Love, Lies, and Azure Eyes” is a work of fiction, I often paused while I was writing it to refer to my file of news clips about the true incident that inspired my story. I wanted to be sure my version captured the essence of the original. I also developed a timeline to ensure that the sequence of events in the book flowed properly. I’m also grateful for Google. Whenever I encountered details I wasn’t familiar with, such as wine and firearms (not necessarily in the same scene), I consulted Google. It helped me to, at least, “sound” like I knew what I was writing about.
Is there anything else you’d like to tell readers about the book?
JT: “Love, Lies, and Azure Eyes” is my third novel, and while I’m proud of the other two, this one means the most to me. A great deal of the story is personal, and my heart and soul are woven into every page. Thank you, Dianne, for this opportunity to tell your visitors about my new book.
Thanks for answering my questions, Janis, and good luck with Love, Lies and Azure Eyes. I’m sure the fact that the story is based on real events in your own community will particularly speak to readers. It has certainly intrigued me.
The novel is available online at Amazon.
About Janis Thornton: Janis is the author of a true crime/oral history/memoir, Too Good a Girl, as well as two cozy mysteries, Dust Bunnies & Dead Bodies and Dead Air & Double Dares. She also is the author of two local history books and contributor to Undeniably Indiana. She is a member of Sisters in Crime, the Authors Guild, and the Indianapolis Writers Center. She lives in her Indiana hometown in the same house where she grew up.