Today’s Author Spotlight is on Assaph Mehr, author of Murder In Absentia.
A young man is found dead in his bed, with a look of extreme agony on his face and strange tattoos all over his body. His distraught senator father suspects foul play, and knows who to call on.
Enter Felix the Fox, a professional investigator. In the business of ferreting out dark information for his clients, Felix is neither a traditional detective nor a traditional magician – but something in between. Drawing on his experience of dealing with the shady elements of society and his aborted education in the magical arts, Felix dons his toga and sets out to discover the young man’s killers.
Murder in absentia is set in a fantasy world. The city of Egretia borrows elements from a thousand years of ancient Roman culture, from the founding of Rome to the late empire, mixed with a judicious amount of magic. This is a story of a cynical, hardboiled detective dealing with anything from daily life to the old forces roaming the world.
This is a story of Togas, Daggers and Magic – for lovers of Murder Mysteries, Ancient Rome and Urban Fantasy.
Assaph has receive many awards for his writing, including:
Virtual FantasyCon 2016
- 1st place – Favourite Dark Fantasy Book
- 1st place – Favourite Dark Fantasy Author
- 2nd place – Favourite Urban Fantasy Book
- 2nd place – Favourite Urban Fantasy Author
- 3rd place – Favourite Fantasy Series
1st place – Indie Books Worth The Read (https://www.goodreads.com/list/show/37072.Self_Pub_or_Indie_Books_Worth_the_Read)
Hi Assaph 🙂 Please Introduce us to your Blog. What is it all about? What sorts of posts do you lean towards? My blog is part of my author platform, and therefore reflects those aspects. I put out original contents (like short stories), articles about writing and marketing, occasional news, and general funny stuff.
I love the subject matter I’m writing about – the blend of ancient Rome and Fantasy – so I include information about them. I also seem to have a reasonable knack for book marketing, so I try to put out articles that could help other authors in today’s shifting publishing landscape.
What Inspires and stirs your creativity? I’ve always loved to read. I had my nose in a book since I was five. Whilst I always dreamt of writing one day, I never thought I’d get to it before retirement. But once started, I enjoy it so much I have no intention of stopping. It’s the outlet I’ve always looked for in creative endeavours. (My only other outlet is in cooking, of which I have half a talent at best).
Conversely, what do you find difficult to write about?
According to my editor, I’m a typical guy in that it’s hard to get me to put the deep emotional stuff on the page…. It is there though. Felix is a hardboiled, crusty detective. He doesn’t necessarily show it, but the novels have a larger emotional arc to them. My strengths seem to be in the world building and the intricate plots, and my editor is whipping helping me in making my writing even better.
What Message, if any, do you hope to Share through your blog/posts? Besides that Felix tells awesome stories? 😊 I don’t have a message I set out to share, but I think I would like to show to others that writing is a matter of perseverance, and good writing is a matter of reading. If it’s something you love, if you can stick to it, you can make it work and get much satisfaction from it.
How has your blog helped you as a writer/Indie Author? What things have you learned along the way that you never anticipated? My blog is part of my platform, as I mentioned. It helps tremendously in building presence and getting noticed.
As for lessons learnt, I’m a self-learner. I’ll research what I need, examine the options, and then build up my skills by doing. It’s an introverted process, rather than relying on others for support. That said, I will say that the indie community is fantastic and extremely supportive. I have made many new dear friends since becoming an author.
Tell us about your book(s): My books tell the stories of Felix, a classic noir detective in tone but dealing with paranormal cases – all set in a world based on Ancient Rome. I call them Storied of Togas, Daggers, and Magic. They combine the elements of what I like to read.
What Inspired you to write your book? I’ve had the idea for the mystery behind Murder In Absentia and come of the characters involved kicking around in the back of my head for a decade. But as I said, I wasn’t looking to write anything before retirement.
Then one hot January night over two years ago, my complained that she finished everything she wanted to read. So after everyone went to bed, I sat down, and started to write. And I didn’t stop until I completed the manuscript, about four months later.
From what Point of View do you prefer to write? Is there a reason? I write in first-person POV. I like to read such novels, where you get into the head of the protagonist. It’s very common in noir detectives, and it felt the most natural to write in. Felix is, in a way, a bigger and better version of me.
How would you describe your “Voice” or Style of writing? Uniquely my own, I hope. Felix does have a bit of deadpan humour, and isn’t always the most reliable narrator. But if you like a bit of fry humour, you’ll love his quips.
I put out short stories with Felix, so that potential readers can find out quickly if they like my style. You can find them here: https://egretia.com/short-stories/.
What genre do you prefer to write or are you truly eclectic? The best genre label is “historical fantasy”, though if you’d like something more specific I guess “Historically-themed Urban High-fantasy Noir Detective Mysteries (with just a splash of Horror)” would do.
I like speculative fiction. Always have. I grew of classic Sci-fi and fantasy, read a lot of detectives and thriller, and have always been in love with history and historical fiction, particularly Rome. So blending all of these was just natural. That doesn’t mean I won’t try another setting – but I think I’ll always remain under the “historical fantasy” umbrella.
Do you painstakingly plot out your story; are you a discovery writer or a bit of both? Why? A bit of both. As the stories are mysteries, I know the ending. I know the quintessential essence, what the story is all about. I also know where I start (Felix being hired to resolve said mystery). In between, I like to discover the plot for myself. I like putting Felix in impossible situations, and marvel at his ability to weasel out of them and come to a satisfying conclusion. I just try to keep him in the right direction, as he’s telling me his memoirs.
Do you have a favourite or least favourite character? And Why? I don’t think I have a “least favourite” character. I enjoy writing them all. Even the antagonists. I make sure that they are human too, with wants and needs, and one can’t really hate them.
Besides my protagonist through whose eyes the stories are told, I do enjoy writing the other main characters in his life. Araxus with his shifting grasp of reality, Aemilia who like to poke her nose at his business, and others. They are all like friends.
Share an insight or secret about your book(s). I mentioned that there is an emotional arc across several books, even though each is an independent mystery. I have this planned across four novels at the moment. The point where the current work-in-progress (book two) ends – well, I am expecting a few death threats from the dedicated Felix fans.
What do you feel is your best advice to share with other aspiring authors? The most important thing in writing is a comfy pair of pants. Put them on, then park your ass in a chair and write. There is nothing as basic as sitting down and writing, and without it you won’t get far. So write a little bit, but often. And keep at it until you’re done.
As for writing good books, ah – there the secret is different. To write good books, you must get yourself a comfy pair of pants, park your ass on the couch, and start reading. Read a lot, in your genre and outside of it. Keep reading and observing what you’re reading. And then move to the chair and write some.
Would you like to share an excerpt from the book or a poem or two to give readers an idea what you offer? This is from the last third of the current WIP. Felix has a broken leg, and finds himself at a low-point in the case, in a foul mood and not many options. He goes back to basics, for some cash and fresh air.
I decided I needed some time away from everyone, and that I would not be getting it at home.
My mobility impaired, I could not take on another case. I was in no condition to walk far, but I limped down to the docks between the grain and fish markets, found a good corner, chalked ‘FORTUNES TOLD CURSES IDENTIFIED’ on the wall, sat down on a folding stool, put on airs, and busied myself with a scroll of Assyrican star-gazing that looked impressive with all its strange and foreign symbols.
People being what they are, especially sailors and dock workers, I scraped enough small coins that day to cover a night of drinking. Calculating people’s horoscopes is tedious, but at least cleaner than haruspicy. One sailor wanted me to write a curse against his fellow, whom he swore stole his lucky fascinum when they were asleep. I scribbled a supplication to Hygieia — about as magical as a bucket of piss — to withdraw her protection from the thief’s health. I also sold him a mild laxative in the guise of ‘special medicine’, and told him to slip it in the evening meal whilst at sea to make the guilty party revealed to all. On the off-chance he was wrong about the culprit, the laxative was to go into the main pot, with the supplication into the fire. I taught him a meaningless doggerel to repeat, so I could claim it was his fault for botching it. Thoughts of future winds generated below decks by an overly flatulent crew cheered me up.
It also kept my mind away from Aemilia, and what I needed to do with her.
And now for the part most Authors find difficult…Lets talk about you! If you had to describe yourself to someone who has never met you, what might you say? I… wouldn’t know where to start. There’s the obvious picture and bio. Everything else comes when you get to know them better, built over time.
If you could meet one person from the past, who might it be and why? Just one? But there are so many…. I’d probably pick Sulla and Catilina, two intriguing characters from ancient Rome who – I think – got the short end of the stick when history was written.
When you are NOT writing, what is your favourite pastime? I spend a lot of time with my family, playing with the kids. I read a lot, mostly at nights or when I’m too tired to write. Occasionally I manage to keep up my martial arts practice. I’ve been practicing various martial arts on and off for the past 30 years, and am currently practicing an internal branch of Wing Chun. I actually based some of the magic system in my world on my experience studying the internal arts.
Describe Your Dream Getaway Destination. Have you ever been there? What makes this place Irresistible to you? I love ancient ruins. I’ve recently been on a trip to visit family in Israel (pics on my blog and Instagram), so naturally I took my family to visit a few of my favourite old forts and historical sites. I have been to Rome and Italy many years ago, and would love to go again. So many places I have only seen in pictures, and would love to experience.
I have this tendency, when walking old streets, to see them as they were and not as they are. Just have to remember to watch out for traffic.
What “Charity” or “Cause” do you feel passionately about & Why? Not a specific charity, but I do feel passionate about environmental issues. I see what we are doing to the planet and what we are leaving to our children, and it scares me.
Assaph has had his nose in a book since he was five, and had to yell at the librarian that he can read already so he should get his own card. With a rather diverse taste in reading – from fantasy to philosophy, from ancient times to the far future – his first novel Murder In Absentia is an “historically-themed urban high-fantasy hardboiled murder mystery, with just a dash of horror”.
After years of reading and only dreaming of seeing his name in print, he suddenly started writing in 2015. He owes this to his wife, who complained that there was nothing good left to read. Once the challenge was accepted and Murder In Absentia was born, Assaph just kept on writing – short stories, flash fiction, and now a second full length novel. You can find them all on egretia.com.
When he’s not busy mashing up genres or interviewing other author’s characters on TheProtagonistSpeaks.com, this ex-Israeli-turned-Aussie enjoys his kids, cats, wife and even his day job. He hopes that his thirty years of martial arts make his fight scenes realistic, and that his love of history shines through his work.
Please be sure to check out Assaph at one of his many social sites
Google Plus: http://plus.google.com/+AssaphMehr
Amazon Author Page: http://www.amazon.com/Assaph-Mehr/e/B015U1F3NC
Murder In Absentia on Amazon: http://amzn.to/1XbfKN1
Thank You so much Assaph for sharing your insights and writing with us. Many Blessings~