Interview & Review | Wendy Tyson’s Dying Brand

Today I am thrilled to share an excerpt of Wendy Tyson’s latest novel in her Allison Campbell Mystery series, in addition to my review of the novel and a fabulous Q&A with Wendy herself!

Dying Brand (Allison Campbell Mystery #3) by Wendy Tyson

dying brandGenre: Contemporary Women’s Fiction, Mystery Thriller & Suspense

Published: May 5, 2015

Source: Paperback book from CLP Blog Tours

When image consultant Allison Campbell attends an award ceremony to honor a designer friend, she’s thrust into a murder investigation. Only this time, it’s personal.

A former boyfriend is dead, slain on the streets of Philadelphia. His widow claims he was meeting with Allison, yet Allison hadn’t spoken to him in years. Nothing about his death—or life—makes sense. When compromising photos from their past arrive at Allison’s office, they raise more questions than they answer.

Driven to find justice, Allison deconstructs the image her ex had created for himself, looking for clues about the man he’d become. As her hunt for the truth unveils secrets, Allison’s past and present collide—with deadly results.

Book Links: Amazon | B&N | Kobo | iTunes | Google Play

My Review

Although Dying Brand is the third novel in the Allison Campbell Mystery series and is probably best read in order, it can certainly be read as a stand alone novel. If you’re not familiar with the series, let me have the honor of introducing you to these amazingly captivating murder mysteries. Allison Campbell has a somewhat jumbled and messy relationship history. She’s currently dating her ex-husband and now she’s dealing with the aftermath of a dead ex-boyfriend that’s making a mess of her life.,

Allison seems like the person that holds it all together and takes care of everyone, yet she doesn’t seem to want to start a family with her ex-husband Jason that she happens to be dating again. And after so many years of taking charge and taking care of everyone else, Allison is hesitant to let others take care of her in return.

Now not only does she have to worry about Scott’s widow, but she’s also got a difficult family to take care of and a careless sister on the loose. It turns out that Scott was cheating on his wife and having affairs behind her back. It’s sad to think of the amount of lies one must fabricate in order to live a double life. Adultery speaks volumes about one’s character and it never fails to amaze me that people actually do it in real life. It’s even worse to think that in some situations, the woman [or man] knowingly cheats with someone they know is married.

Common themes throughout this novel were about infidelity, financial greed, betrayal, murder, and love. Up until this point I’ve mostly been into the girly chick-lit type of mysteries, but after reading Dying Brand, I think I will be picking up more mysteries that aren’t necessarily chick-lit based. To start with, I’ll definitely be picking up the first two novels in the series to get caught up!  This was a fabulous murder mystery that had me turning the pages and dying to know what happened next, and the novel itself was extremely well written and entertaining. 5 stars for this suspenseful mystery!

My Rating: 5/5 Stars

Author Interview – Wendy Tyson

1. Would you like to start by introducing yourself?

Hello!  I’m so happy to be here today.  My name is Wendy Tyson and I’m an author from the Philadelphia area.  I’ve written the Allison Campbell Mystery Series, the third of which, DYING BRAND, just came out in May.  I am also a wife, the mother of three boys (and three dogs!) and a full-time attorney.

2. Can you give us a brief overview of your latest novel Dying Brand and the inspiration behind it?

When image consultant Allison Campbell attends an award ceremony to honor a designer friend, she’s thrust into a murder investigation.  Only this time, it’s personal.

Scott Fairweather, former boyfriend and client, is dead, slain on the streets of Philadelphia. The police believe his death is drug-related, yet the man Allison knew was into clean living.  His widow claims he was meeting with Allison that day, yet Allison hadn’t spoken to him in years.   Nothing about Scott’s death—or life—makes sense.  When compromising photos from the past show up at Allison’s office, they raise more questions than they answer.   Who wants her silence…and why?

Driven by the desire for justice and a compelling need to understand her role, Allison deconstructs the image Scott had carefully created for himself, looking for clues about the man he’d become and possible motives for his murder. The pressure of the search and the secrets it unveils test the strength of her newly-rekindled relationship with her former husband.  Add to that family turmoil, including a prodigal sister battling addiction and a young niece she never knew she had, and events force Allison to question the very foundations of her life.  As her hunt for the truth continues, Allison’s past and present collide—with deadly results.

I didn’t really have a specific inspiration for DYING BRAND other than an image of the opening scene.  I had a vision of Allison getting a phone call from a woman who haunted her past.  As I suppose many fiction writers do, I used that image to ask a series of questions: Who was the woman?  What did she want?  What is the conflict?  What does Allison stand to lose?  I developed the story from there.

3. How long did it take you to write Dying Brand? What is your writing process like?

It took me about ten months to write DYING BRAND.  That said, the idea lived with me longer than that, so I suppose I had worked out some of the details in my head well before I put pen to paper.

I have become a pretty disciplined writer (I wasn’t always!).  Because I have a crazy life, I make time to write every day, usually very early in the morning before my kids are awake and before I head to work.  My goal is to get in two solid hours.   I have a very vocal inner critic, and she loves to sit on my shoulder and point out what she believes is rubbish.  The nice thing about writing at five in the morning is that she’s not yet fully cognizant, and when I’m working on a first draft, I want to just get the words down on the page without agonizing over every sentence.  The agonizing comes later, during the editing phase.

In terms of process, I start by free writing.  Once I have a general idea for a book, I write in notebooks, with no real organization.  My goal is simply to flesh out the idea, the characters, etc.  Once the concept has form, I start the first draft, writing straight through until I can type “THE END.”  I do make notes to myself while writing the first draft, however, sometimes in a separate document and sometimes in brackets in the draft itself.  Then I go back and edit my first draft.  After that, I outline the book to make sure all of the plot elements fit together properly and the mystery works.  I like to send it to at least two or three trusted beta readers before it goes to my editors at Henery Press, who will read it and provide comments of their own.

4. Can you tell us a bit about what you’re working on at the moment?

I’m finishing up the first book in a new series.  The novel is called A MUDDIED MURDER and it’s the debut in The Greenhouse Mystery Series, which will be published by Henery Press beginning in the spring of 2016.  The series centers on a young, widowed environmental lawyer who returns home to rural Pennsylvania to care for her spirited, aging grandmother and launch the family’s organic farm and café.  In the first book, she and the town’s hunky veterinarian find the body of the local zoning commissioner in her barn—and she, of course, is compelled to find the killer.  My husband and I are passionate organic gardeners, so this series is close to my heart.

I’m also writing the next Allison Campbell novel, FATAL FAÇADE, which is due out next summer.  In FATAL FAÇADE, Allison and friends head to Italy where Allison becomes entangled in the murder investigation of a beautiful, mysterious ex pat.

5. What’s your favorite quality about your heroine Allison?

I love Allison’s sense of humanity, and her desire to do what’s right—no matter what.  Although Allison lives in a wealthy, prestigious Philadelphia suburb, and hobnobs with the “who’s who” of the Main Line, she always feels a little like an outsider.  In fact, it’s her experiences as an outsider (growing up a poor, unpopular kid in a small town) that help her see beneath the surface when it comes to others, an important trait for an image consultant—and an amateur sleuth.

6. Did you always want to be a writer?

Yes, always, since I was a little girl.  I grew up on Nancy Drew novels and was, in general, a voracious reader and storyteller.  It took me a while to realize the dream—I’ve had many careers in the interim, including veterinary assistant, caseworker, therapist, lawyer and ERISA consultant—but I am incredibly grateful for the opportunity to be published.

7. Being a writer is a great job but what’s the worst job you’ve ever had?

Telemarketer (I can see you all cringing from here!).  While in high school I spent a few days as a telemarketer for a media agency.  It was absolutely awful.  Our calls were monitored, we had a script and we were told not to take “no” for an answer.  Besides the fact that it was incredibly boring, tedious work, I didn’t have the stomach for the hard sales approach.  I quit after about five days. To this day, when a telemarketer calls, I am sympathetic.  I know what a tough job it is.  Talk about rejection!

8. What is the best advice anyone has ever given you?

The best writing advice someone ever gave me was to observe human behavior.  Good writing is, at its core, about psychology, this person said.  I think they were right.  You can craft beautiful sentences, but if you don’t capture what feels like authentic human behavior to readers, you’ll lose them.  In my view, character is the most important element of a book, and the best writing offers insight into the shared human condition.

9. What would we find if we looked in your handbag right now?

A mess!  You’d find a wallet stuffed with receipts that need to be sorted, a make-up bag, random Legos, a gum wrapper or two, keys, my work entry pass, business cards (work), business cards (writing),  business cards (other authors), bookmarkers, and a pile of loose change at the bottom.

10. Do you have any pet peeves?

I have a twenty-five mile commute to work, most of it on the Pennsylvania Turnpike, so my pet peeves tend to be driving related.  They include when folks drive in the left lane of a highway and don’t move over for faster-moving traffic.  And tailgaters.  Oh, and people who aren’t courteous.  If we all took a moment to be courteous, the world would be a better place.

11. A few of your favorites…

Favorite scent?  Honeysuckle

Favorite color?  Blue

Favorite food?  Paneer tikka masala

Favorite word?  Peculiar

Favorite song?  Steal the Light by The Cat Empire

Favorite book?  THE STAND by Stephen King

Favorite/dream vacation spot?  Chamonix, France  (Bucket list—Patagonia)

Favorite time period in history?  The present!

Favorite article of clothing?  Long, lightweight black sweater from Athleta.  Pulls any outfit together.

Favorite drink of choice?  Alcoholic?  Vodka gimlet.  Non-alcoholic?  Unsweetened iced tea.

Favorite celebrity crush?  Bradley Cooper

12. Either or…

Dogs or cats?  Dogs

Red wine or white?  White

Coffee or tea?  Coffee

Summer or Winter?  Summer

Sleep in or get up early?  Up early

Apple or PC?  PC

About the Author – Wendy Tyson

Website | Twitter | Facebook | Amazon | Goodreads

wendy tysonWendy Tyson is an author, lawyer and former therapist whose background has inspired her mysteries and thrillers. Wendy has written four published crime novels, including Dying Brand,the third novel in the Allison Campbell Mystery Series, to be released on May 5, 2015.  The first in the Campbell series,Killer Image, was named a best mystery for book clubs in 2014 by Examiner.com. Wendy is also the author of the Greenhouse Mystery Series, the first of which, A Muddied Murder, is due to be released just in time for spring 2016.  Wendy is a member of Sisters in Crime and International Thriller Writers and she is a contributing editor for The Big Thrill, International Thriller Writers’ online magazine.  Wendy lives near Philadelphia with her husband, three sons and two dogs. Visit Wendy at:http://www.watyson.com.

Excerpt from Dying Brand – CHAPTER ONE

Allison Campbell couldn’t think of anywhere else she’d rather be. Sitting in the Grand Ballroom at the Four Seasons next to her boyfriend, Jason, and her business manager, Vaughn, both of them dressed in evening garb and looking quite dashing, was the last place the image consultant expected to find herself on this early November evening. She’d been scheduled to present at a university ahead of her next book release. Nevertheless, when the invitation to be a guest of honor at Delvar’s award ceremony had arrived a month ago, she’d canceled her other plans and accepted without question.

Delvar’s was a success story of the very best kind.

Allison watched her mentee with maternal pride and the tiniest bit of professional told-you-so from her perch at the stage-side table. Not only was Delvar a sought after designer, but a role model to others. And that second reason was why they’d all gathered on a Saturday night to celebrate.

The gentleman on Allison’s left was engaged in a conversation with Delvar’s mother, and on Allison’s right, Jason was in the midst of a heated discussion with Vaughn. They were talking football, a topic Allison knew little about. Slightly giddy from Dom Perignon and a night away, Allison took advantage of her boyfriend’s distraction to check her email messages. It was then, with her small clutch open and her hand on the mobile device, that her phone rang. Allison answered quickly, without thinking, a move she would later regret.

The woman’s voice was one she recognized. The sound of it, rather like shattering glass or a fork scraped against a ceramic plate, made Allison shudder.

Her name was Leah Fairweather and she was a phantom of Allison’s past.

Allison rose from the table with her phone planted against her cheek and left the award ceremony without a word to her companions. The whimsical lights and excited voices of the Grand Ballroom receded to a dull blur of background noise.

“Are you listening?” Leah asked.

Allison swallowed. She was standing with her back up against the wall of the hotel lobby. She pictured Leah’s white-blond hair as it had been not that long ago: long, thick and curled on the ends. She saw Leah’s hooded grey eyes, that twisted little smile, part vixen, part intellectual snob. Allison knew these memories were colored by feelings of shame and remorse. Her mind had turned Leah Fairweather into a symbol of past regrets, both bigger and uglier than reality. Allison’s hand shook.

“I asked if you were listening.”

“I’m listening,” Allison said.

“Why? Of all the men, why him? You both promised. He said it was over, all of it. For God’s sake, why? And now, this—”

And now what? Allison blinked, confusion overriding other emotions. “I don’t know what you’re talking about, Leah. Slow down.”

“Bullshit.”

A baby cried in Leah’s background and the sound registered as another accusation. Allison watched as a man in a tuxedo left the ballroom with a fifty-something blond hanging on his arm. They headed toward the doors that led to Arch Street. Allison said, “I’m going to hang up now, Leah. You’re upset. Confused. I haven’t seen Scott in almost five years. Except for a brief encounter, but that was just happenstance—”

“I know you’ve been seeing him.”

“That’s not true.”

“Liar.”

Allison closed her eyes, then opened them, fighting for control. From the corner of her eye, she saw Jason push open the ballroom doors. He looked around, searching for her.

“Good-bye, Leah,” Allison said.

“Wait!”

“I need to go.”

“Scott’s dead.”

Allison grabbed the wall. Her vision constricted, the heady lights becoming starbursts of ivory dancing in front of her face. Scott Fairweather, dead? But she had seen him, what, three weeks ago? He’d seemed fine. Perfectly fine.

“He’s dead, Allison.”

“What happened?”

“I thought maybe you could tell me. What happened to my husband?”

Jason spotted her. He was walking toward her, looking concerned. Allison wanted to hang up. She also wanted to know—had a sudden, crushing need to know—what had happened to her former paramour.

“How would I know what happened to him?”

“You were supposed to have been together the day he died.”

“Together?” The vise on Allison’s skull tightened. She felt Jason’s touch on her elbow, registered his eyes, full of questions. Allison turned toward the wall. She had to get off the phone. With a steadier voice, she said, “That’s not true.”

“You’re in his appointment book.”

“It’s not true. I have to go now, but—”

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Don’t forget to check out the other stops on the Dying Brand blog tour!

June 29 – A Blue Million Books – Q&A

June 29 – A Blue Million Books – Q&A

June 30 – Coffeeholic Bookworm – Review & Excerpt

June 30 – Chick Lit Plus   – Review

July 1- Samantha March – Excerpt

July 2 – Annabel & Alice – Review

July 3 – Hello Precious Bliss – Review

July 6 – Fiction Dreams– Q&A

dying brand buttonJuly 8 – Authors and Readers Book corner – Excerpt

July 8 – The World As I See It – Review & Excerpt

July 9 – Living Life With Joy – Review, Q&A & Excerpt

July 13 – Random Redheaded Ramblings– Excerpt

July 13 – Literary Musings – Q&A & Excerpt

 

 

 

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