(Cara Walden Mystery, #2)
Publication date: September 12th 2017
Genres: Adult, Historical, Mystery
Budapest: 1956. Newlywed Cara Walden’s brother Zoltán has disappeared in the middle of the Hungarian revolution, harboring a deadly wartime secret. Will Cara or the Soviets find him first?
Cutting short her honeymoon in Paris to rescue a sibling she’s never met was not Cara’s idea, but her husband Jakub has a reckless streak, and she is too much in love to question his judgment. Together with her older brother Gray, they venture behind the Iron Curtain, seeking clues to Zoltán’s whereabouts among his circle of fellow dissidents, all victims of the recently overthrown Communist regime. One of them betrayed him, and Cara realizes that the investigation has put every person they’ve met at risk. Inadvertently, they’ve also unmasked a Russian spy, who is now tailing them in the hope that they will lead him to Zoltán.
The noir film of Graham Greene’s The Third Man inspires Lisa Lieberman’s historical thriller. Burning Cold features a compelling female protagonist who comes to know her own strength in the course of her adventures.
1. What is your favourite part about writing mystery?
I love research! Mind you, I consider watching old movies research, and looking at old issues of Vogue magazine (to get ideas for how my characters would have dressed), watching old newsreels of events like Grace Kelly’s wedding to Prince Ranier on YouTube, and reading trashy Hollywood bios. I’ll also make a playlist of the music my characters might have been listening to and have it going as I write.
2. Do you base your characters off people you know, why or why not?
No, I base them on the stars of my favorite movies. Sometimes I even allow them to appear in brief cameo roles my stories. Cary Grant shows up in All the Wrong Places in a tuxedo (swoon) and Marlene Dietrich (also wearing a tuxedo, now that I think of it) offers Cara and her new husband the use of her bungalow for their wedding night in Burning Cold. I’m in charge of my fictional world and, let’s face it, movie stars are more fascinating than anyone I know.
3. Would you rather write from the winner or loser's perspective?
I like complicated people who make mistakes, who try to be their best selves but who don’t always succeed. Life isn’t about winning, in my experience. It’s about learning, being honest with yourself about why you failed, picking yourself up and trying again.
4. Do you have a favourite reading spot?
In the winter, I like to read in front of the fireplace with a glass of red wine close at hand. In the summer, I like to read on the deck outdoors overlooking our back garden, enjoying the fresh air and listening to the birds.
5. Do you write what you read (genre, topic, etc)?
I’ve always enjoyed mysteries, but I’ll read anything, from fantasy to science fiction (I’m rereading some of my favorite Ursula Le Guin novels at the moment) to Barry Lopez’s nature writing. I suppose the common element, in my reading and in my writing, is being immersed in the world I’m visiting.
6. What do you love the most about history?
I love plunging into another time period, imagining how it would be, living in France, say, during the 18th century (of course I’d be an aristocrat, dying conveniently of natural causes before the fatal year of 1789). I collect past experiences—sounds, smells, recipes, customs and manners—the way others collect souvenirs on their travels. What I remember most about visiting Delft, for example, was entering a little bakery on a side street and feeling as if I’d been transported into a Vermeer painting.
7. What is your favourite place out of all that you have visited?
Italy, hands down. The people are so friendly, and they know how to live in the moment. Sitting out on the balcony of our apartment in Bologna at sunset with a glass of red wine, watching the lights go on all over the city, the church bells summoning the faithful to mass. We lived there for a year when I was directing a study abroad program for the college where I was teaching. Our children were small, and Italians love children. I think it was the best time in our lives.
8. Favourite fantasy world?
When I was a teenager, I used to reread Lord of the Rings at the end of the summer, to help me gird my loins for the coming school year. I still think about Tolkien’s Middle Earth. Such a compelling place, part medieval epic (the literature he studied), part merrie olde England (the home he idealized when he was off fighting in World War I).
9. Pizzas or hamburgers?
Pizza, with a glass of red wine (I fear that red wine is becoming a theme here . . . ), a Friday night ritual in my household.
10. Where do you go when you want to be alone?
I watch Ninotchka for the 30th time, or pick up a French caper movie (Banana Peel with Belmondo and Jeanne Moreau is one I watched recently) and screen out the world.
Author Bio: Lisa Lieberman is the author of the Cara Walden series of historical mysteries featuring blacklisted Hollywood people in exotic European locales. All the Wrong Places and Burning Cold are available from Passport Press in print and e-book.
Trained as a modern European cultural and intellectual historian, Lieberman abandoned a perfectly respectable academic career for the life of a vicarious adventurer through dangerous times and places. She has written extensively on postwar Europe and is the founder of the classic movie blog Deathless Prose. She now directs a nonprofit foundation dedicated to redressing racial and economic inequity in public elementary and secondary schools. She is a member of Sisters in Crime and Mystery Writers of America.
After dragging their three children all over Europe while they were growing up, Lisa and her husband are happily settled in Amherst, Massachusetts.
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