Happy Monday all! I’m pleased to be hosting a guest post from Ritter Ames, author of Counterfeit Conspiracies, today. There’s also a great Rafflecopter giveaway you can enter in honor of her new book and blog tour. Look what you could win: a signed copy of Counterfeit Conspiracies, a 7″ Kindle Fire HD, a movie DVD, a SAS SpyPen with hidden camera, and an Amazon gift card – a $150 value! 🙂
Enter the Giveaway here.
Adapting Real Scenes to a Book
by Ritter Ames
First, I’d like to thank Books the Thing for inviting me here today, and for suggesting I write about the impetus for one of the scenes in my book, Counterfeit Conspiracies. The Bodies of Art Mysteries are my favorite to write, and reviewers have called these books “a high-octane thrill ride” and “a mix between White Collar and Leverage.” So, when I thought back to how certain scenes in the book evolved, I thought I’d talk today about one favorite involving London streets crowded with iconic double-decker buses, various-sized lorries (yep, we’d say trucks in the U.S., but lorry sounds much more Brit), and my characters escaping via a legendary black cab. Until bullets shatter the windows.
To clarify, I’ve never had windows shot out of my cabs, but some crazy vehicle-related adventures have happened to me while visiting Jolly Old London-town. One event happened when we traveled there in spring 2008.
My husband and I headed for Churchill’s Bunker one afternoon. Hours later, hubby happy and my brain filled with more WWII info than I’d ever hoped to acquire, we decided to forgo heading underground again and grabbed a bus whose number said it circled our route. I jumped on, used my Oyster card, and headed deeper inside, believing hubby followed. Wrong! He’d forgotten to reload his card that morning. An embarrassingly loud buzzer reminded of the mistake. Our indignant driver shouted at my flustered hubby.
“Don’t worry. I’ll grab a ticket outside,” I said, hopped off the bus, and ran to the nearby machine. Unfortunately, hubby followed.
As the ticket fell into my hand, the bus pulled away from the curb. We shadowed it down the block and I swear the bus driver laughed the whole way. We caught the next bus. It was rush hour—we took a deep breath and prepared for a stop-and-go ride. Whilst hubby obsessed about every injustice, I relaxed and watched vehicular near-misses on almost a second-by-second basis. I memorized the looks of different vehicles from above, and marveled at the serpentine effect as they coursed over the roadway. Caught my breath at daredevil antics of cyclists who risked life and limb weaving through lanes to save hours from weekly travels. I gasped as too-large vehicles ducked down too-small alleys for shortcuts in the traffic kerfuffle.
Because of building heights and the traffic’s mesmerizing effect on me, I didn’t notice we were getting deeper into the city center—not farther from it. Hubby continued grousing about the first bus. Neither of us realized the problem until we were last ones on and our driver pulled into the covered bay.
Luckily, this driver was much nicer than the last.
“Take your tickets. You walk back there.” He pointed outside. “Buses will come and turn around. Catch the one you need. Fifteen minutes. Just fifteen minutes. Hurry.”
We saw a bus with the right number and flat-out ran. We leapt onto the bus—my Oyster card ready; hubby’s ticket in hand.
It was the same bus driver who yelled at my husband and then drove off without us. Really!
I whispered for hubby to stay cool, pulling him toward the back rows.
Suddenly the driver recognized my spouse. “You have no ticket. Let me see your ticket!”
I stormed. “He does have a ticket! You watched us buy one at the machine, then drove off just as we were about to board. He has a ticket!” I waved the damned slip of paper.
“What is the date? What does it say?”
“It says today’s date. You know it does. Now drive us home!”
At our seats, several people leaned over to tell how the driver was known for being a jerk. We learned just how far jerkiness extended about a half-hour later when, still some distance from our destination, a man in a brown suit boarded at a stop by a park. The man carried a briefcase and huge, fluffy, white cat.
Our driver went berserk!
I’m not sure what language they screamed, but body language said Brown Suit was determined to bring the Persian aboard and our driver equally determined he wasn’t. There was pushing and shouting, and—of course—hissing from the cat. Finally, our driver turned off the bus, grabbed the keys and hurled the key-ring into the bushes. He shoved Brown Suit aside and was last seen stomping back toward the city zone.
“What do we do now?” hubby asked. “Catch another bus?”
“I’ve had it with buses. If we hurry, we’ll be at the flat by dark.”
He wasn’t pleased, but I used my ‘do-not-argue-with-me’ look. At an outdoor café I bothered a nice couple who kindly directed us toward Portobello Road.
Eventually, we straggled into the flat, evening on the cusp of full dark after grabbing takeaway from the nearby Indian restaurant.
That’s how the action street scene in Counterfeit Conspiracies came to be. The scene is more lethal than my true adventure, but after absorbing all the sights and sounds of busy London streets during that crazy ride, writing exciting fiction is easy.
Laurel Beacham may have been born with a silver spoon in her mouth, but she has long since lost it digging herself out of trouble. Her father gambled and womanized his way through the family fortune before skiing off an Alp, leaving her with more tarnish than trust fund. Quick wits and connections have gained her a reputation as one of the world’s premier art recovery experts. The police may catch the thief, but she reclaims the missing masterpieces.
The latest assignment, however, may be her undoing. Using every ounce of luck and larceny she possesses, Laurel must locate a priceless art icon and rescue a co-worker (and ex-lover) from a master criminal, all the while matching wits with a charming new nemesis. Unfortunately, he seems to know where the bodies are buried—and she prefers hers isn’t next.