LADY LIMBO is the Next Big Thing…

Writer of literary mystery novel Lady Limbo, Consuelo Roland plays a little blog tag. She was tagged by the wonderful short story writer Liesl Jobson, and here she shares a quick Q&A about her new novel Lady Limbo. 

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What is your working title of your book?

From early on I had two working titles, partly because I knew it was volume I of the Limbo Trilogy;  the one title was With My Last Breath and the other was Lady Limbo. When my agent wanted my manuscript to submit it to Jacana Media for their consideration, I hesitated over which title to use. Eventually I went with Lady Limbo, and then once we had a signed contract I mentioned the alternative title as a possibility. But Jacana Media were adamant that it should remain Lady Limbo. I think they were right in retrospect because the cover design perfectly complements the title, and as my niece pointed out “Alliteration is always good in a title!”

Where did the idea come from for the book?

A ground hostess told my mother a very sexy naughty story one long night at Charles de Gaulle Airport in Paris. Her name is forever lost in the torrential downpour of that stormy night. Lady Limbo is the story of a globe-trotting career woman whose life unravels when her husband disappears. Paola Dante’s search leads her to a mysterious international organisation that hires genetically superior men out for the purposes of face-to-face procreation.

Real Man International (aka RMI), the name of the secret organisation she visits, is an invented name, but the organization exists; it’s details reside in a ground hostess’s little black book as per her own words. It was fun to turn things around and evoke a world where men are  paid ridiculous stud fees to be at the beck and call of willful high-flying women who can afford to be extravagant. If one believes the ground hostess’s story then it’s clear that occasionally a perfectly ordinary independently-minded woman – such as  a ground hostess – might use RMI’s services, and get herself into a spot of trouble.

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What genre does your book fall under?

Lady Limbo is perhaps best described as a literary mystery novel with some big dollops of mind-twisting suspense. There’s plenty of character development as well as sex, fear and violence. The mystery genre aims to keep the reader perched on the edge of his or her seat, without being as restrictive as a whodunit. It allows for the whydunit perspective which is far more interesting. In Lady Limbo the emotional stakes are high and the internal conflict is mirrored by villainous external forces.

Which actors would you choose to play your characters in a movie rendition?

Penelope Cruz and Javier Bardem are the obvious choices for the lead roles of career woman and missing husband in the movie version of Lady Limbo. The girl at the bus-stop would be somebody newly discovered who has that ‘it’ factor which combines the innocence of freckles with wide open knowing eyes and a blonde ponytail… the daughter of somebody I know is perfect. The male half of the French villain couple should be slim, suave and able to wear a dinner jacket – maybe Ben Kingsley – and the female half should be Naomi Rapace of Girl With The Dragon Tattoo movie fame.

What is the one-sentence synopsis of your book?

Forced to hunt down Lady Limbo, the elusive internet ghost of a youthful love affair that ended in betrayal, Paola Dante risks everything and learns to trust no one in a race to find her missing husband.

Will your book be self-published or represented by an agency? 

Lady Limbo, my new novel,  is represented by an independent agency and is published by Jacana Media. It’s a more layered mystery thriller with an international setting, and the first of the Limbo Trilogy. It seemed to make sense to publish traditionally.

However, I self-published my debut novel The Good Cemetery Guide as an e-book after getting my world rights back in 2012. It provided an excellent opportunity to gain an understanding of what it means to self-publish.

How long did it take you to write the first draft of your manuscript?

It took 18 months to do the first draft for Lady Limbo, but I did two other complete rewrites before settling on the current version. In total Lady Limbo took me about four (4) years to write. I’m hoping that volumes II and III of the Limbo Trilogy go much faster because the foundation has been laid and I know the ending for each of them.

What other books would you compare this story to within your genre?

Although the plot of Lady Limbo is vastly different and more akin to a thriller in many respects, The Blind Assassin, Atwood’s mystery story of extra-marital betrayal and sexual allure with its triangular love plot and multi-layered structure had long fascinated me, and it seemed always to be in the background.

But the major influence on Lady Limbo was Stieg Larsson’s sensational Millenium Trilogy which changed the face of the crime novel in the 21st Century. I read The Girl With the Dragon Tattoo on holiday in Europe with snow falling outside my window in-between tapping away at Lady Limbo on my laptop, and addicted to Larsson’s formula, polished off The Girl Who Played with Fire and The Girl who Kicked the Hornets’ Nest in quick succession.

Who or what inspired you to write this book?

A good thriller chills our blood, readying us for a mesmerizing journey through the glowing portals of hell. I’d tackled death in The Good Cemetery Guide so it seemed like the next obvious topic was sex. But I did not want it to be soft porn; rather I had to find a way of writing a story around the issues faced by modern professional women who have a plethora of relationship and sexual choices available to them, and how girl children are affected by our sexually charged online-media society.

Lady Limbo transports us into a parallel reality where humanity’s worst instincts are at play. The “dark web” (an invisible black hole of untraceable activity) is estimated to be an incredible 15 times larger than the web we know, with more than 900 billion pages. It is a world where the illegal is openly available, providing a hidden shop window for criminal gangs and sexual predators. On the dark web innocence is traded like any other commodity

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What else about your book might pique the reader’s interest?

The perfect life… Or a beautiful lie? The seductive Lady Limbo leads Paola Dante into dark territory she never knew existed, where she must question all she knows. How far would you go for love? All the way?

Lady Limbo is a thoroughly twenty-first century story with an international setting and full of enigmatic twists and turns. Just when you think the story is going one way then it suddenly gets even more interesting and ups the ante. The shocks and surprises keep on coming at the character like she’s in a shooting arcade, dodging a hidden shooter in a world of seduction and darkness. Paola has to think on her feet all the time, or the truth will find her before she finds the truth.

As this is a blog roll, I’m handing over to Ronald IrwinKerry Hammerton and   Jacqui L’Ange who’ll be posting their blogs next week.

Tagging other bloggers who have already done the Next Best Thing: Liesl Jobson, Ann Fisher-Wirth, Susan Rich, Susan Elbe and Cynthia Reeser

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Connect with Consuelo: Website / Twitter / Lady Limbo Facebook / The Good Cemetery Guide Facebook

What a generous fellow writer can do for you

lady-limbo-front-cover_jacanaLADY LIMBO starts out with a bang. It gets picked up by the extraordinarily generous Joni Rodgers, a New York Times bestselling author, who gives it a fantastic Amazon review followed by a YouTube review that stuns me.  But LADY LIMBO doesn’t have an overseas publisher and for many months it’s not even available on Amazon for overseas buyers.

At home in South Africa reviewers have the enviable task of wading through a deluge of high quality overseas thrillers and mysteries – and the local writers who do get decent coverage are way cooler and better connected than others. LADY LIMBO gets a mixed bag of reviews. It becomes clear that marketing it as a thriller hasn’t been a good idea since expectations of a speedy high-octane read aren’t met. LADY LIMBO is repositioned as a mystery novel aimed at those readers who savour long satisfying reads.

The other day, suddenly, out of the blue, LADY LIMBO is given a breathtaking thumbs up by a fellow writer I’ve never met in person, who gets that LADY LIMBO is just itself. This is the power of social media and Facebook. The power of generous connectivity can replace negative energy with positive energy.

The lucky ones get picked out by the readers who were meant to read them. So it was with John van den Berg and Lorraine I like to think. IMG_1380 John mentions an illustrious literary quartet – Milan Kundera, Salman Rushdie,  Khaled Hosseini and Umberto Eco. I am a devoted fan of these grand masters of chiaroscuro fiction – how did John know?

Writing a blog post seems like a sensible way of making sure I keep remembering this lesson.

I’m one of these funny people who appreciates clichés in the same way I like my old shoes. These funny reworked sayings become part of us, accumulating nuances and overlays of meaning that attach themselves to the words in stages, stages of a life. When we say them we believe because we’ve said them before and heard others say them. And belief is a powerful weapon in a writer’s arsenal.

So, for those of you starting out: every cloud has a silver lining, let it go like yesterday’s snow, everything passes, you can’t be everything to all readers, no writer is an island, whining or complaining never helped anybody (thank you Johnny Depp and Kate Moss), there’s always another review, the show is not over till the fat lady sings, and finally – a personal favourite borrowed from a minibus taxi slogan – ‘Don’t be a Hater’!

Oh, you get the idea. Dredge them up. Whatever makes you sit down and write another paragraph, another page, another poem, another short story, another novel. Whatever keeps you focussed on the act of creative energy.

When an unpleasant review comes along my first thought is to crush it into a tiny ball and bin it, and then never think of it again. Unfortunately, modern-day social media doesn’t allow for quick relief, it’s more the slow water torture variety of psychological torture.

So, every time the compulsive, nibbling urge comes upon me to check on new reviews for LADY LIMBO I find myself opening the negative energy reviews and regurgitating the critical comments as if I were grinding stones between my teeth. Sticks and stones may break my back, but words will never hurt. Not true.

Google likes  online publications that publish regularly and have huge audiences so a bad review can stay top of the pops for a (very) long time. An immovable granite boulder that no amount of obsessive checking can budge off the edge of the world wide web.

Maybe I should try writing something completely different? Oh dear, isn’t that what I said last time?

Honesty is so confusing. I’ve been in the situation myself where I’ve had to weigh honesty up against something else; usually a feeling of camaraderie with my fellow writer. Knowing how much blood, sweat and tears it takes how can I condemn anyone else’s attempt to tell a story that never existed before? But it seems that some reviewers don’t believe, as I do, that the stories are out there waiting their turn, and that we are merely conduits to untold readers.

All I can say is that powerful voices intrude when I write; voices that insist their story be told and they’ll take their chances. Allowed plenty of leeway but with strict oversight I am pressured to remain faithful to the essential message. If I stop listening it’s a bit like being underwater without a pen; garbled speech bubbles rise to the surface and come to naught.

The story loses its sinuous sense; my hand is restless but inadequate. It keeps writing and rewriting, an unstoppable itch, but wrong roads are gone down and gibberish emits, dissonant tracts out of sync with the whole; the rhythm lost, the writer forlorn. Listen, listen, listen.

It’s as if all the stories ever written were in a huge calabash and occasionally a giant medicine woman stirs them up and they scatter into the night’s firmament, twinkling messages, all jostling for attention.

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Postscript: I’m listening to Hosseini’s A Thousand Splendid Suns in audio book format at the moment and it’s breaking my heart. This is the power of fiction – to make us feel. For LADY LIMBO to be on the same bookshelf as any one of their books would be amazing. That is a dream worth contemplating.

 

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LADY LIMBO: chilling ‘out there’…

‘Out there’ means Lady Limbo is dancing up and down the land in her dancing shoes. Friends and family are sending me photographs of bestseller bookshop shelves and saying nice supportive things.

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One of the photos thrills me. Sharing a shelf with J.K. Rowling feels amazingly good; until the niggling thought arrives that maybe the bookseller was just looking for a good contrast of cover colors so that readers could spot the J.K. Rowling book quicker!

This is what happens to us small fish after a while; one loses that brazen swagger and becomes a self-pitying mess. But wait, it’s crazy, I mean there are a lot of blue novel covers around this year, it’s pretty much a blue cover year; they could have chosen one of those other novels, but they didn’t, they chose Lady Limbo. So I revert to feeling pleased as punch which is a far better feeling!

Occasionally I open up one of the photos I’ve been sent of Lady Limbo on a bookshelf and test myself – Is there an awkward  umbilical connection? Do I feel the need to protect? The answer comes easily; it’s “no”. I recognise the feeling of separation.

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This teenager doesn’t need me to hold its hand any longer; it’s grown up enough to go out to rave book shops on its own; and in the hectic book world of bestsellers nobody says “Hey, I know your mom, she’s a really cool person, no wonder you’re so well put together!” No, in that world you arrive dressed to kill, and you float there chilled in blue champagne, and a frisson of excitement passes through the book crowd, the true sign of a good killer thriller!