Monday 9 March 2020

Join me in Conversation with #HistoricalFiction author, John Anthony Mille #Mystery @authorjamiller

A conversation with Historical Fiction author, John Anthony Miller

Please give a warm Coffee Pot welcome to John Anthony Miller.

MA: Welcome to The Coffee Pot Book Club, is wonderful that you could stop by and chat with us today. Before we begin, could you tell my readers a little about yourself?

JM: Hi Mary Anne, thanks for having me. My name is John Anthony Miller, and I live in southern New Jersey in the U.S., very close to the city of Philadelphia. I’ve been writing professionally for about six years, and Sinner, Saint, or Serpent is my seventh novel.

MA: I have read Sinner, Saint, or Serpent, and it is brilliant. What was the inspiration behind it?

JM: Five of my prior books are thrillers, with intense plots, and the sixth, a psychological murder mystery, is also very intense. For Sinner, Saint, or Serpent I wanted to write a mystery, but focus more on an interesting cast of characters rather than a fast-paced thriller. I decided on a Jazz-age murder set in New Orleans. The crime is investigated by two reporters, Justice Harper, known for his fairness, and Remy Morel, his sassy counterpart, and they investigate three suspects – all prominent women in New Orleans society. The sinner, Blaze Barbeau, is a real estate magnate with a checkered past, the saint, Lucinda Boyd, lost her family business to the victim, and the serpent is a spooky voodoo queen named Belladonna Dede. I enjoyed writing it. It was fun.

MA: How did you come up with your setting, and your characters?

JM: New Orleans is one of my favorite cities, a place I’ve visited six times. It’s famous for Mardi Gras and Bourbon Street, but also has a rich history, fantastic food, and great music – jazz, blues, and zydeco. For the book, I wanted the setting to also be a character, rivaling any of the people – and I knew I could do that with New Orleans.
For the characters, I invented people based on what I had seen during my New Orleans visits, like a voodoo queen and a jazz singer. One of my favorite characters is Remy Morel, who is a sassy reporter. During the initial draft, she was a minor character, barely mentioned. But as I continued working on the book, she couldn’t keep her mouth shut and, by the time I finished, she was my favorite.

MA: There are many books in the mystery genre. Can you tell us three things that set your novel apart?

JM: I think what first sets the book apart from other mysteries is the plot. Although there are three primary suspects, there are also several others, and I think readers will be kept in suspense until the very end trying to determine who the killer is. Second, I made the city of New Orleans as popular as any of the characters, using the rich cultural history of the French Quarter as a backdrop. And third, the cast of characters are unique – a voodoo queen, a sultry jazz singer, a mouthy reporter, a Mafia gangster – and I hope my readers become invested in how interesting they are.

MA: One last quick question. What are you currently working on?

JM: My latest effort, which is currently with my literary agent, is called The Drop. It’s set in Havana, Cuba in 1958, and it’s about Cuban revolutionaries who kidnap a rich American businessman and demand the ransom from his wife. There’s just one problem they hadn’t considered. His wife doesn’t want him back.

MA: The sounds fabulous, I can’t wait to read it! Thank you so much for dropping by today.
If you would like to know more about John’s fabulous book then you know what to do SCROLL DOWN!

Sinner, Saint or Serpent
By John Anthony Miller

New Orleans, 1926
When a leading businessman is found murdered, investigative reporters Justice Harper, known for his fairness, and Remy Morel, his sassy counterpart, are determined to find the killer. There are three suspects, all prominent women in New Orleans society. The sinner is Blaze Barbeau, a real estate magnate with a checkered past. The saint is Lucinda Boyd, who lost her family business to the victim. And the serpent is a spooky voodoo queen named Belladonna Dede.


New Orleans, Louisiana
May 18, 1926 at 7:37 p.m.
August Chevalier sat in the parlor of his Royal Street mansion, eyes wide open, a bullet hole in the center of his forehead with a line of blood trailing down the bridge of his nose. He seemed surprised by death’s arrival, or by whoever delivered it, as if meeting his maker had been the farthest thing from his mind at the time.
I studied the body from the foyer, leaning against the white molding of the arched entrance, watching the investigation. The corpse sat on a Victorian couch, lavender with lion’s paws feet, a book lying askew beside it. The Prince, by Machiavelli, was a political discourse that supposedly gave good advice for handling enemies to business folks like Chevalier. He should have read it just a little bit sooner.
There was an Art Deco table in front of the couch with a glass top and floral wrought iron frame that matched the fence that circled the property. Chevalier’s left leg was stretched out beneath it, a nick on the sole of his Italian leather shoe. Like most rich folks, he wore expensive clothes – a silk blue shirt and darker slacks with barely a wrinkle in them.
Even though I had no right to be at the crime scene, I was there just the same. So I just kept looking around the room, scribbling notes on a pad I always carried with me. There was a small leather bag on the floor near the leg of the couch, just beside the body. The string keeping it closed had come undone, and there was a trail of gray powder, a few streaks of vermillion and chunks of something that looked like bones or small animal parts scattered across the Oriental carpet. I knew it was a gris-gris bag, a voodoo charm used to ward off evil or bring good luck – or any number of things that the creator might make for the purchaser. They were popular in New Orleans, especially among the superstitious. And even those that weren’t.
A grandfather’s clock stood against the far wall, a leather chair beside it, while a mahogany desk sat just under the side window. It was flanked by two cypress bookshelves, the spines of decorative leather volumes visible as you entered the room. A few papers were arranged real neat on the desktop, with a torn envelope and a folded letter that was a bit crumpled tossed near one edge. It looked recently opened, read and discarded, the contents perhaps not to the liking of the addressee. The writing on the envelope, visible from my location whereas the letter itself was not, showed fine penmanship, a swirling cursive with a flair for the dramatic, sex of the originator unknown. I leaned toward female. Most men I knew, including myself, were just not that neat.

Pick up your copy of
Sinner, Saint or Serpent

John Anthony Miller

John Anthony Miller was born in Philadelphia, Pennsylvania to a father of English ancestry and a second-generation Italian mother. Motivated by a life-long love of travel and history, he normally sets his novels in exotic locations during eras of global conflict. Characters must cope and combat, overcoming their own weaknesses as well as the external influences spawned by tumultuous times. He’s the author of the historical thrillers, To Parts Unknown, In Satan’s Shadow, When Darkness Comes, All the King's Soldiers, and For Those Who Dare, as well as the historical mystery, Honour the Dead. His latest novel, Sinner, Saint or Serpent, is a jazz age murder mystery set in New Orleans. He lives in southern New Jersey with his family.
Connect with John: Website FacebookTwitter.

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See you on your next coffee break!
Take Care,
Mary Anne xxx