A Pia Sabel Mystery
Who killed Chloe England?
When a friend from her days in international soccer, now a British constable, is murdered, Pia Sabel uncovers an assassination ring catering to the ultra-rich – putting her dead center in their crosshairs.
For most of her life, Pia Sabel worked through the pain of losing her parents, threw herself into her work, and lived with insomnia. Now her doctor warns growing paranoia will soon threaten her mental health. She escapes to rural England to mourn the loss of her friend. On arrival, she is attacked by a mob, dismissed by officials, and ridiculed by high society for inquiring about an English Lord and a British institute. The more people tell her not to ask questions, the more she questions their motives.
Unconquered and unafraid, she investigates the murder and exposes a well-connected web of billionaire suspects. Along the way, she touches a nerve, bringing down an avalanche of killers on top of her. Unable to trust anyone, from the handsome Scot she wants to know better to Britain’s titled class, she must unravel the clues before more victims land in the morgue. Peeling back the layers of deceit, lies and cover-ups, Pia finally discovers the truth about who killed Chloe England. A revelation sure to endanger everyone she loves.
When and where do you prefer to write?
Anywhere, any time. Or perhaps I should say, everywhere all the time. I hike five miles up and down a local mountain every morning before dawn and even then, I’m thinking about what I’m going to write. When I get home, I take my laptop from dining room to office to patio, or wherever — and write. (If you’d like to see my office, I recorded a little tour here: http://seeleyjames.com/2021/01/a-video-tour-of-my-office/ .)
Pre-pandemic, I would occasionally go to coffee shops. When I went on longer hikes, such as the Grand Canyon or hiking Mt. Humphrey, I often found myself itching to write when I got back to the suite. I tried using dictation while hiking, although the heavy breathing sends conflicting messages to Siri, and listening to the recordings later puts me off. So I just store up those ideas and wait for the cool down.
Do you need peace and quiet when you are writing?
Yes and no. I can listen to classical or jazz instrumentals but I can’t listen to music with lyrics. I also can’t concentrate when family members are talking nearby, although I can easily focus in a coffeeshop or on an airplane. The human mind is tuned to hear good and bad news from people we trust, hence the distraction with music or family. When it’s an overwhelming cacophony, we tend to tune it all out. I need to concentrate, so I seek an extreme: absolute quiet, melodic music, or lotsa noise.
If you had the chance to co-write a book. Whom would it be with?
I’m not sure I could. I marvel at Preston & Child and wonder about James Patterson. Over the years, it has become clear to me that it’s not just a desire to work with someone else, there has to be a working chemistry or it’s all pulp. The people I like to work with have strong, reasoned opinions, say what they mean, and live with the results without holding a grudge. I’d hate to work with one of my favorite authors only to find out he or she is impossible on a paragraph-by-paragraph basis. There are some things you don’t want to discover.
Say someone asks if they can use your name in a book. Would you rather be the ‘good one’ or the ‘bad one’?
It wouldn’t matter to me as long as the character was well drawn. There’s nothing more unappealing than a wishy-washy character parading around with my moniker. Or worse, a character with no consistency. I’m not Tom Hanks, only a hero, never a bad guy. I’m more like Heath Ledger or Glen Close, give me a role and let me fill it to the max.
Who would you like/have liked to interview?
I interviewed Roger Hobbs (Ghost Man, Vanishing Games) shortly before his tragic death. It was one of the most candid and interesting interviews about craft I’ve ever had. Which quite possibly was due to his drug problems that led to his overdose. I’d like to interview him again and include questions about his problems now that I’m aware. But that is more of a desire on my part to revise the past and fix something broken.
For a more upbeat interview, I’d like to interview any of the current crop of writers who subscribe to the “plot/outlines are bad” theory (Steven King, Patricia Cornwell, etc) and ask them if they don’t have a subconscious outline in their heads. Because their books all follow the Writer’s Journey to a T. I have an unsubstantiated belief that these “pantsers” are intuiting an outline without realizing it.
Where can I find you when you are reading?
Everywhere I go, I have a book in my hand. If there is a minute to wait, at the doctor, in the airport, anywhere, I pull out my book and read. I’m a lover of hardbacks and have a fire-hazard of a home because of it. However, I also carry a Kindle Paperwhite for the books I need to study. I’m not particularly good at romance, so I’ll read Sandra Brown or Nora Roberts and highlight passages where relationships are blooming or crashing and study them later. I also use ebooks for my non-fiction research.
Where can I find you when you are not writing/reading?
On top of a mountain or at the bottom of a canyon. But even then, I often listen to audio books.
What goes through your mind when you hold your new book in your hands for the first time?
Oh my gawd, I can’t believe I let that character have … damn. I can make that part much stronger in the next revision. (Which never happens.)
How do you come up with a title for your book?
Having long admired the genius of Sue Grafton, I sat down one day to make a series title theme. I came up with “Decision” as in The Geneva Decision. Then I set that aside for two books because I planned for those to be classic mystery-who-done-its and didn’t feel my writing was where I wanted it. So I wrote two with exploratory titles, Bring It and Element 42. Both those featured a new character who fans loved. But they were thrillers, so I sat down and mapped out a series theme that would reflect thrillers. That became the “Death and” series with themed second words. The political trilogy were Death and: Treason, Secrets, and Vengeance. Then the personal trilogy consisted of Death and: Conspiracy, Betrayal, and Deception (with a fourth later this year called Redemption).
Last summer I felt ready to tackle the mystery genre with a you-can’t-guess-this-one story and went back to the roots. Which is why it’s called The Morpheus Decision. There will be at least two more “Decision” mysteries and, hopefully, a lot more.
How do you pick a cover for your book?
I work closely with my cover designer Jeroen ten Berge. I tell him what it’s about, which are the big scenes, and he comes back with questions, then a couple ideas. We then massage the bits and pieces into a cover. He’s been great.
Thank you, Seeley James and Pump Up Your Book
About the author
Seeley James’ near-death experiences range from talking a jealous husband into putting the gun down to spinning out on an icy freeway in heavy traffic without touching anything. His resume ranges from washing dishes to global technology management. His personal life ranges from homeless at 17, adopting a 3-year-old at 19, getting married at 37, fathering his last child at 43, hiking the Grand Canyon Rim-to-Rim at 59, and taking the occasional nap.
Seeley’s writing career began with humble beginnings including publishing short stories in The Battered Suitcase leading to being awarded a Medallion from the Book Readers Appreciation Group. Seeley is best known for his Sabel Security series of thrillers featuring athlete and heiress Pia Sabel and her bodyguard and operative, veteran Jacob Stearne. One of them kicks ass and the other talks to the wrong god.
Seeley’s love of creativity began at an early age, growing up at Frank Lloyd Wright’s School of Architecture in Arizona and Wisconsin. He carried his imagination first into a successful career in computer technology sales and marketing, and then to his real love: fiction.