Monday, 16 January 2017

Meet A Writer Monday Presents...

...Assaph Mehr

1. Tell me about your book Murder In Absentia and where you got your inspiration for it?

I’ve had the idea for the mystery behind Murder In Absentia for a while (sorry can’t tell you without spoiling the end). However, it was in quite a different setting. A few years I randomly picked up a Marcus Didius novel by Lindsey Davis – a detective set in ancient Rome – and fell in love again with that period and genre.

So when it came time to write I did what felt the most natural. I blended the fantasy mystery aspects with the historical fiction I love reading so much.

2. If your book was made into a film, who would you like to see play the lead?

I think the current consensus amongst fans is that Tom Hiddleston should play Felix (the protagonist). He’s a bit too tall, but I think he’ll be able to pull of the charm and action required for the role quite beautifully.

As for other roles, I will leave it to the director – which I firmly believe should be Joss Whedon.

3. What are the top three books in you TBR pile?

I’m currently alternating between the Dresden Files series by Jim Butcher and the Medicus roman mysteries by Ruth Downie. A lot of fans compared Felix to Harry Dresden in a toga, so I had to read it and Downie’s writing is absolutely excellent, full of charm and wit.

The rest of my TBR is probably longer than my life expectancy. The book I pick up next tends to vary by mood.

4. How important to you view maintaining your twitter account?

Twitter is one of my main online presences, and how I meet and interact with a lot of fans. I’ve made some wonderful friendships through twitter, not to mention the countless entertaining conversations. I think it can be a great platform for authors – as long as they realise that it’s not an advertising avenue, but rather a way to engage with their niche audience.

5. If you could travel anywhere, where would you go and why?

Classical Europe could be high on my list. As anyone who has read my books and stories know, I have a great love for ancient Rome. However, I love history in general, and would just love to lose myself in ruins and museums all day long.

6. If you had to choose to live without one of your five senses, which would you give up and why?

Probably my sense of smell. It’s hardly working anyway, so wouldn’t be missed much. I’m on the way to losing my hearing, and I can’t imagine life without being able to read.

7. If you could time travel, would you go to the past or the future?

The past. We have so many big gaps in our knowledge of the past, and so many lost relics and books. I’d love to bring back some copies of works that have been lost to time. The memoirs of Sulla would be high on my list, as well as a private interview with Sergius Catalina and Coriolanus.

8. What motivates you to succeed as a writer?

The love of writing. I write first and foremost for myself – the stories I want to read. I enjoy this creative outlet tremendously. When I then receive feedback from fans that they enjoy my writing, it’s the most exhilarating feeling. It gives me a sense of duty, to keep on writing.

9. If you could have an answer to any question, what would that question be?

Next week’s winning lottery numbers :P

More seriously, life is journey of self-discovery – not about reaching the end. While certain things might make life easier, and it might be interesting to find the secret formula of writing best sellers, I think most things about life are simply the product of observation, hard work and careful review. I’d like to discover things as I go.

10. What genre do you write in and what draws you into this genre?

My “genre” is the Historically-themed Urban High-Fantasy Hard-boiled Detective (with a splash of Horror). I write in this, simply because that’s what I enjoy reading. I grew up on sci-fi and fantasy as well as classic detectives. I’ve love historical fiction, particularly that set in ancient Rome.

When it came time to write, I wrote what felt the most natural way to tell the story. This happened to be a story of a private detective solving a murder case, and set in a fantasy world inspired by ancient Rome. I worried less about the box it would fit in, and more about the integrity of the story and the world.

11. Do you aim for a set amount of words/pages a day?

In between day job, kids and other obligations, I can’t seem to commit to a certain number of words per day. That said, I do try to write as often as I can. Making it into a habit is great if it’s possible, but even writing in spurts and starts is better than not writing at all.

12. Do you let a book stew – leave it for a month and then come back to it to edit?

I do this with all my writing. I find that getting some distance really helps when editing. It allows you to see both the structure and the message more clearly, and then edit the writing to produce a better result.

13. What are your thoughts on good/bad reviews?

Reviews are, largely, a matter of taste of the reviewer. When a book has been properly edited and produced, i.e. without any glaring errors, what’s left is the reviewer’s perception and preferences.

As such there are no “bad” reviews. Those negative reviews serve a purpose as well – they help potential readers identify if the book is right for them. No book is ever for everyone (did you enjoy all books you picked up?), so being able to gauge a book and pick one a reader is more likely to enjoy will lead to more satisfied readers.

14. Have you written any other books that are not published? Do you intend to publish them?

I am currently working on my next book, a sequel of sorts to Murder In Absentia. I have a few more books planned – all are separate mystery stories with the same character and world. I plan to write them in order, and publish them as soon as they are ready.

After that we’ll see. Perhaps I’ll try writing something a bit different, though I do believe I’ll stay within the speculative fiction umbrella.

A young man is found dead in his bed, with a look of extreme agony on his face and strange tattoos all over his body. His distraught senator father suspects foul play, and knows who to call on.

Enter Felix the Fox, a professional investigator. In the business of ferreting out dark information for his clients, Felix is neither a traditional detective nor a traditional magician - but something in between. Drawing on his experience of dealing with the shady elements of society and his aborted education in the magical arts, Felix dons his toga and sets out to discover the young man's killers.

Murder in absentia is set in a fantasy world. The city of Egretia borrows elements from a thousand years of ancient Roman culture, from the founding of Rome to the late empire, mixed with a judicious amount of magic. This is a story of a cynical, hardboiled detective dealing with anything from daily life to the old forces roaming the world.

This is a story of Togas, Daggers and Magic - it will appeal to lovers of murder mysteries, ancient Rome and fantasy.


About Assaph

Assaph has had his nose in a book since he was five, and had to yell at the librarian that he can read already so he could get a card. With a rather diverse taste in reading - from fantasy to philosophy, from ancient times to the far future - his first novel Murder In Absentia is an “historically-themed urban high-fantasy hardboiled murder mystery, with just a dash of horror”. Assaph now lives in Sydney, Australia with his wife Julia, four kids and two cats. By day he is a software product manager, bridging the gap between developers and users, and by night he's writing - he seems to do his best writing after midnight.

Twitter: @assaphmehr

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