Thursday, May 3, 2018

Christine Evelyn Volker: The IAN Interview

Christine Evelyn Volker became intrigued by foreign cultures at an early age, which propelled her to study Spanish, German, and Italian. After securing a BA in Spanish and an MLS at University at Albany – SUNY, followed by an MBA at UC Berkeley, she was drawn to international banking and became a senior vice president at a global financial institution. Her career brought her to Italy, where she immersed herself in the language and made frequent visits to Venice. Venetian Blood, marking a return to her roots in the humanities, just won the Sarton Women’s Book Award for contemporary fiction.

She is currently polishing her second international mystery, this one set in the rainforest of Peru, an excerpt of which was a finalist in the 2018 San Francisco Writers Conference Contest.

IAN: Please tell us about your latest book.

Christine Evelyn Volker: Struggling to forget a crumbling marriage, forty-year-old Anna Lucia Lottol comes to Venice to visit an old friend―but instead of finding solace, she is dragged into the police station and accused of murdering a money-laundering count with whom she had a brief affair. A US Treasury officer with brains and athleticism, Anna fights to clear her name in a seductive city full of watery illusions. As she works to pry information from a cast of recalcitrant characters sometimes denying what she sees and hears, she succeeds in unleashing a powerful foe bent on destroying her. Will she save herself and vanquish her enemies, including her darkest fears?

A captivating tapestry of love, betrayal, and family. Venetian Blood is the story of one woman’s brave quest for the truth—before it’s too late.

IAN: Is your book published in print, e-book or both?

Christine Evelyn Volker: I’m pleased that it’s available in print, e-book, and was just released as an audiobook with an award-winning narrator, Gabrielle de

IAN: What inspired you to write Venetian Blood?

Christine Evelyn Volker: My visceral love of Venice combined with a painful period in my own life, resulting in my intense desire to tell a story and leave a mark. That’s how Venetian Blood was born.

IAN: Did you use an outline or do you just wing the first draft?

Christine Evelyn Volker: The first draft took off, crashed, was dusted off again, retrofitted, and I ultimately learned how to fly. Not using an outline meant doing it the hard way.

IAN: How long did it take to write Venetian Blood?

Christine Evelyn Volker: If I were to have consistently worked on it—around six years. Life and love intruded, the manuscript was put in a drawer, taken out again, changed, put back—you get the picture.  That added 20 years. This speaks to my persistence.

IAN: How did you come up with the title?

Christine Evelyn Volker: The book’s a murder mystery taking place in Venice, Italy, so blood is spilled, and it’s Venetian blood. There’s at least one other interpretation—you’ll have to read the book to figure that out.

IAN: What do you hope your readers come away with after reading Venetian Blood?

Christine Evelyn Volker: Appreciation, and maybe even love, for the miracle of Venice and its history. (Imagine, Venice was a republic for one thousand years!) But more importantly, I hope readers gain insights into characters and cultures different from their own, the need for equilibrium, and respect for all creatures that share the earth.

IAN: How is Venetian Blood different from others in your genre?

Christine Evelyn Volker: Generally, mine has more complexity and nuance. It’s a mystery within a mystery, which includes a protagonist, Anna, whose life is hanging in the balance. She has a big backstory which pervades her disastrous vacation. The setting is not just the mention of a few place names and menu items, but a site appealing to all the senses, one that has a rich past, and is almost a character. I use setting to foreshadow, reflect moods, add mystery, romance, and immerse the reader in the location. This also includes liberal use of Italian.

IAN: Do you have to travel much concerning your books?

Christine Evelyn Volker: Yes, and traveling to the setting of my books is a delight. I’ve been to Venice at least 12 times, mostly when I lived in Milan. I absorb the location – like osmosis. For Jaguar Moon, my next book, I’ll need one more trip to Peru to make sure I’ve gotten everything right.

IAN: Do you have anything specific that you want to say to your readers?

Christine Evelyn Volker: Thank you for taking time to read my work. I’m grateful that I can share my imaginary worlds with you. I hope you enjoy the journey!

IAN: Tell us about your next book or a work in progress. Is it a sequel or a stand-alone?

Christine Evelyn Volker: I’m currently polishing Jaguar Moon, a stand-alone international mystery taking place in Cusco and the Peruvian Amazon. In 1993, thirteen-year old Marisol and her younger brother, Raul, escape from the family home in Peru the year after a coup, and flee for their lives. They enter the United States illegally and will live with an aunt who adopts them. More than a decade later, Marisol returns to Cusco, intent on discovering what happened to her parents, and reconnecting with her grandmother. A journalist, like her father, she’s assigned a story about the Amazon rainforest, but the photographer working with her goes missing there.

Marisol’s dangerous journey takes her through the cobbled streets of Incan Cusco, to the winding Sacred Valley, to the lushness of the rainforest and its dark secrets. Exploring the far corners of her country, grappling with nightmares, facing the plight of native peoples, will she be as fearless as her father in seeking the truth?

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