One of the reasons I began blogging was because I used to review fiction aimed at 11-14 year olds for a big UK publisher and feel reading is such an important part of life. So it gives me great pleasure to be supporting BHC Press in introducing Judith Belvins and Carroll Multz, authors of Blue, book three in the Childhood Legends Series, to Linda’s Book Bag readers today. Blue is aimed at middle grade readers.
Blue was published by BHC Press/Barking Frog on 13th February 2017 and is available for purchase in e-book and paperback from your local Amazon site.
As well as an interview with the authors I have an international giveaway to win a signed paperback copy of Blue at the bottom of this blog post.
The Best Kept Secret…
Blue paint covered a five-year-old Cuban refugee seeking asylum in the United States. In his search for a safe-haven and, in an attempt to find food, he succeeded in causing a paint spill that would forever change his life and the lives of those who befriended him.
My name is Shacoo Bandaris, a twelve year old and a member of a club known as the Are You One Toos (R*U*1*2s). I, together with another club member, Rhymin’ Sally, was responsible for extricating from his predicament the boy we dubbed “Blue.”
Keeping Blue a secret from the authorities and our parents was no easy task. Discovery would have meant possible deportation for Blue and, of course, a punishment we chose not to think about. Follow our trail of intrigue as the R*U*1*2s attempt to keep Blue the best kept secret—at least until he is naturalized.
An Interview with Judith Belvins and Carroll Multz
Welcome to Linda’s Book Blog, Judith and Carroll. Thank you both so much for agreeing to answer some question on my blog about your writing. Firstly, please could you tell me a little about yourselves?
Carroll: I owe everything to my father, the first attorney I knew and admired, and my mother, whose love and inspiration will be with me always. My whole career, like Judy’s, was centered in and around the courtroom where I served as a prosecutor, defense attorney and later as a judge. I have been involved in a number of cases that have been reported in such publications as the New York Times, Redbook magazine and various police magazines. My last case was the Columbine Copycat case that occurred in Fort Collins, Colorado, in 2001 that was featured by Barbara Walters on ABC’s 20/20.
One of my passions has been as an educator. I have taught courses in chemistry, biology, and business law at the college level. I am currently completing twenty-eight years as an adjunct professor at Colorado Mesa University in Grand Junction, Colorado, teaching law-related courses at both the graduate and undergraduate levels.
Judy: As with Carroll, my whole professional life has been centered in and around the courts and the criminal justice system. My experience in having been a court clerk and then serving under five consecutive district attorneys for thirty-six years with the Mesa County District Attorney’s Office in Grand Junction, Colorado, has provided the fodder for my novels. I have had a daily dose of mystery, intrigue and courtroom drama and my novels, according to my publishers, share all with my readers.
Without spoiling the plot, please could you tell us a bit about Blue?
As the back matter for Blue, the third in our series in The Childhood Legends Series™, indicates, it chronicles the exciting and challenging journey of a five-year-old Cuban refugee, seeking asylum in the United States. In his search for a safe-haven, and in an attempt to find food, he succeeds in causing a paint spill that would forever change his life and the lives of those who befriend him.
Two members of a club of middle grade youngsters known as the Are You One Toos (R*U*1*2s) stumble upon the boy covered in blue paint and extricate him from his predicament. Because of the blue paint and his inability to speak English, he is dubbed “Blue.”
Keeping Blue a secret from the authorities and the R*U*1*2s’ parents would prove to be no easy task. Discovery would have meant possible deportation for Blue, and of course, serious consequences for the R*U*1*2s. Until Blue is naturalized, the R*U*1*2s succeed in keeping him the best kept secret in town. The evolution of Blue culminates in him, upon reaching adulthood, becoming a United States Senator.
You both write independently as well as collaboratively. Would you tell blog readers a little bit about your independent writing please?
Our genre is mystery, intrigue and courtroom drama—for both our independent and collaborative adult novels. Our whole purpose, singly and collectively, is to inspire, inform and entertain (in that order). We draw upon our life experiences and particularly our past careers in our writings.
As with every writer, we have our strengths and weaknesses, our likes and dislikes, and our peculiarities and preferences. We consider ourselves creative and having a knack for storytelling. The fantasy world has been a refreshing diversion for both of us and a way of disassociating ourselves from the inevitable disappointments in life. We are absorbed in our craft to such an extent that we could make it our only diet and we only deviate reluctantly in order to find time for the other important things in life.
What skills do you each have that enable you to write collaboratively?
Carroll: Without question, Judy’s ability to create images, mood and atmosphere through dialogue and dialogue tags are her strong points. Her development of character patterns leaves a vivid impression on the reader. Also she has a better knack than I do for getting inside her characters and varying their speech patterns to fit their character.
Judy: Carroll’s writing is laced with a philosophical bent. His underlying messages, though subtle, are unmistakable. Whether it is developing a court scene or advancing an agenda, his underlying argument bleeds through and leaves a lasting impression. His forte is painting a vivid picture through the use of words and creating conflict and drama that pique the reader’s interest.
How do you manage the organization of writing collaboratively?
When we decided to write collaboratively, we were somewhat skeptical. Both of us had had trying experiences in that regard. It was not long before we discovered that two heads were better than one and a lot more enjoyable. One of us was always coming up with a plot that intrigued the other. In fact, we find that there is always a plot waiting in the wings.
We start by brainstorming the proposed-plot and allocating names, descriptions and traits to the protagonist, antagonist and normally the major characters. We plot the novel tightly together to begin with so that it flows quite well. We develop sub-plots along the way. Usually one of us will sketch a chapter or two before it is loaded onto the computer. The two of us will review the draft and make changes to what we call the initial version.
The initial version is reviewed by Judy as it’s typed; the printout by Carroll. Major modifications are discussed before and during the rewrite by the two of us usually sitting together at the computer. At times, we also work independently.
How do you manage any differences of opinion when you’re writing?
So far, that hasn’t been a problem. If it becomes one, we will seek the advice of fellow authors whose opinion we respect.
Blue is for middle grade readers. What made you decide to write for this age group?
We both agreed that a person’s destiny is forged at an early age and that first impressions can be critical to one’s future. With our youth being exposed to so much violence, destruction and negativity, we felt compelled to propel them in a more promising direction. What better tool than one of our novels.
Blue touches on a complex theme of asylum seekers in America. What made you choose this as the basis for the book?
America was founded by immigrants. Those who seek asylum for noble reasons and honor a tradition that exacts obligations and expectations in exchange for privileges and immunities should not be denied citizenship. Our book has been awaiting release for several years, long before immigration became a political football.
Blue is the third in your Childhood Legends Series. What can we expect from the series?
The next novel is The Ghost of Bradbury Mansion, followed by White Out, A Flash of Red and Back in Time. The eighth novel in The Childhood Legends Series™, is nearing completion. In addition to providing entertainment, all are geared to inspire and inform.
When did you first realize you were going to be writers?
Carroll: I have been writing since grade school. I have authored or co-authored seven technical books and manuals, nine adult novels, and seven middle grade novels, and over fifty articles that have been published in various legal publications.
Judy: I started writing late in my career, first as Carroll’s assistant, typing and proofing his novels, and later in writing novels of my own and collaborating with Carroll on two adult novels and eight middle grade novels in a collection titled The Childhood Legends Series™.
If you hadn’t become authors, what would you have done instead as a creative outlet?
Carroll: I grew up in a musical family and learned to play the piano at an early age. I have recorded approximately twenty of my musical compositions and am in the midst of writing a musical. In the absence of writing, I would probably devote more time to music.
Judy: I would read and travel more. With my knowledge and love of music, I would probably volunteer to assist Carroll in writing his musical.
How do you go about researching detail and ensuring your books are realistic?
Depending on the information sought, much is obtainable online. Research at the library is becoming less and less frequent. Other sources vary depending on the nature.
Which aspects of your writing do you fine easiest and most difficult?
For both of us the most difficult thing is to write the great American novel and sell the movie rights.
What are your writing routines and where do you do most of your writing?
With travel, book signings, family affairs, sporting events, concerts, and teaching for Carroll, trying to find significant blocks of time to write is at a premium. Most of our writing is done on the computer.
When you’re not writing, what do you like to read?
Carroll: I do a lot of reading and research in preparation for the four classes I teach each semester. When I’m not writing, composing or teaching, I like to read historical novels, inspirational books and mystery novels. During the presidential election, I enjoyed reading books by and about the candidates.
Judy: Like Carroll, I enjoy historical novels and inspirational books. However, I enjoy reading the latest bestselling novels. I like nothing better than curling up with a good book or watching an old movie.
Do you have other interests that give you ideas for writing?
Same answer for both of us: interest in court cases, legislative developments, U.S. Supreme Court decisions, current news, world events and historical accounts.
If you could choose to be a character from Blue, who would you be and why?
Carroll: Easy answer—Blue! He overcame adversity to achieve prominence. He did so with daring, courage, grace and dignity.
Judy: Either Shacoo or Rhymin’ Sally. Shacoo because of her commitment to high ideals and Sally because “she’s just darn cute!”
If you had 15 words to persuade a reader that Blue should be their next read, what would you say?
If you like human interest stories and love stories with happy endings, read Blue!
About Judith Belvins
Judith Blevins’ entire professional life was spent experiencing the mystery, intrigue and drama that unfold daily within the criminal justice system. Her previous experience as a court clerk, and then serving five consecutive district attorneys, has provided the inspiration for her stories. Blevins, now retired, lives in Grand Junction, Colorado, and continues to write mystery/romance novels. She and fellow fiction writer, Carroll Multz, have coauthored a series of children/young adult novels featuring the R*U*1*2s, a band of preteens who collaborate to solve mysteries.
About Carroll Multz
Carroll Multz has been a trial lawyer for over forty years, a former two-term district attorney, assistant attorney general, and judge, has been involved in cases ranging from municipal courts to and including the United States Supreme Court. His high profile cases have been reported in the New York Times, Redbook Magazine and various police magazines. He was one of the attorneys in the Columbine Copycat Case that occurred in Fort Collins, Colorado, in 2001 that was featured by Barbara Walters on ABC’s 20/20. Now retired, he is an Adjunct Professor at Colorado Mesa University in Grand Junction, Colorado, teaching law-related courses at both the graduate and undergraduate levels. He has authored over a dozen technical books and novels.
For your chance to enter to win a signed paperback copy of Blue, click here. Giveaway ends UK midnight on Tuesday 28th March 2017. Open internationally.