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Wednesday 23 November 2016

ℚ♫ King Peso: Detective Emilia Cruz [4] - Carmen Amato

Today we have the pleasure of meeting up with author to talk about King Peso (, Carmen Amato, 364 pages), a Police Procedural Mystery, book four of Detective Emilia Cruz series.

"Amato weaves an intricate assortment of themes into a vivid tapestry . . . with danger and betrayal never more than a few pages away." -- Kirkus Reviews

Carmen Amato has taken the classic mystery and given it a contemporary Mexican twist. Grab a margarita and come on down to Acapulco . . . If you can take the heat.

|| Synopsis || Teaser: KCR Preview || The Series || Author Q&A || About the Author || Giveaway & Tour Stops ||

A very warm welcome to Carmen Amato; thank you for joining us!

Here at BooksChatter we love music; do you have a music playlist that you used in King Peso, or which inspired you whilst you were writing it?

"Flora, thanks so much for having me and for asking about a playlist. I loved thinking about which songs should play in the background of each scene as I wrote KING PESO, the 4th novel in the Detective Emilia Cruz mystery series. Emilia is the first female police detective in Acapulco, taking on Mexico’s drug war and culture of machismo.

I recently was a guest DJ on the NPR show Alt.Latino with host Felix Contreras and shared a playlist of songs that I think reflect KING PESO and the Detective Emilia Cruz series [below]. Felix selected a theme song for Emilia: Tu Eres mi Religión by Maná. Felix and I decided the song perfectly captured the love affair between Emilia and hotel manager Kurt Rucker. Maná are also Detective Emilia Cruz's favorite group."
Ah - that playlist has a few blasts from the past, especially Miguel Bosé, as I've had one of his old songs in my head for a couple of weeks (Miraggi, the Italian version of Horizonte De Las Estrellas). :-D And here it is, with a selection of songs by Maná - enjoy!

What was the inspiration for King Peso?
"KING PESO is the 4th novel in the Detective Emilia Cruz series and without a doubt is the most complex.

There are several continuing subplots in the series, including Emilia’s hunt for missing women, and corruption within Acapulco’s police department and city government. Emilia also has a new boss in every book.

Then there is Emilia’s relationship with Kurt Rucker. He’s a wealthy gringo and she has problems dealing with that.

In KING PESO, I wanted to throw a grenade into Emilia’s already fractious partnership with senior detective Franco Silvio and revisit the money-laundering El Pharaoh casino. In HAT DANCE, the 2nd novel in the series, Silvio and Emilia try to close down the El Pharaoh, but can’t make the charges stick.

I threw the continuing subplots and the new elements into a margarita mixer, hit Blend, and the result is very tasty!"
How much of yourself is reflected in this book, and how?
"People often ask if I’m like Emilia and the answer is “Maybe.”

She’s a headlong risk taker and a good liar. I’m much more honest and cautious.

Where she is apt to be impatient and say something blunt and irritating, I’m more reserved and polite.

And while I try to keep in shape with yoga and walking, Emilia runs at a high RPM. Her workouts are all about kickboxing."
The first thing that draws me to a book is its cover. Can you tell us about your cover for King Peso - why you chose that concept and who the artist is.
"The covers for the Detective Emilia Cruz series, including KING PESO, are by Washington DC-based artist and illustrator Matt Chase. They are bold, colorful, and unique, and have garnered a lot of attention.

I stumbled upon Matt’s artwork on a graphic design website, found his own website and immediately saw the fresh, edgy vibe I was looking for.

When Matt and I first discussed the concept, I told him I wanted the sun-drenched colors of Mexico and sent him pictures of Mexican cities filled with colorful stucco houses. The covers of most mystery novels have dark, moody colors. I wanted the series to stand out and reflect Mexico without looking cliché.

He came up with the overall concept and each cover is a riff on it. We discuss every cover in detail. Matt is sensational to work with and gave the series a distinct style."
Why should we read King Peso and what sets it apart from the rest? What makes your book unique?
"When it comes to mystery series, there’s Nordic noir set in Scandinavia and Iceland. Or tartan noir with mysteries set in Scotland.

Now there’s narco noir.

KING PESO and the Detective Emilia Cruz series are part of the international police procedural genre. Emilia can hold her own on bookshelves with the Harry Hole series by Jo Nesbo, the Wallander series by Henning Mankell, or Ian Rankin’s John Rebus books.

But until Emilia, there hasn’t been a popular series set in Mexico dealing with narco-related crime. The Emilia Cruz mystery series is based on reality. Emilia’s challenges are pulled right from the headlines in Mexico. There’s no need for me to make up bizarre serial killers when cartel violence and corrupt politicians provide more than enough inspiration. For example, Emilia’s perpetual hunt for women who have gone missing—referred to as Las Perdidas or the Lost Ones--was inspired by the hundreds of women missing from the Juarez area.

But I also think readers have embraced Emilia because she is so authentic herself. She’s a young female in a pressure-cooker situation, juggling job, lover, and family. Amidst the violence on the street, she wants to have real relationships and she wants hope for Mexico’s—and her own—future. She’s an appealing woman who is tough yet also vulnerable and trying not to live scared."
Can you tell us something quirky about King Peso, its story and characters?
"A reader recently asked how do I come up with all the names of characters in the Detective Emilia Cruz series? It may sound funny, but I have a collection of Central American newspaper notices of people who are being publicly called out by banks for defaulting on loans. These are similar in intent to public notices in US newspapers. I mix and match from these lists to create character names."
Who would you recommend King Peso to and what should readers be aware of (any warnings or disclaimers)?
"If you like police procedural novels, this series is for you. There is a big dose of Mexican culture and a sprinkling of Spanish words (with a glossary in the back) and many readers have visited or even lived in Mexico. Over and over, I hear that the books are so authentic, that readers feel that they are right there with Emilia on the streets and beaches of Acapulco."
If you could / wished to turn King Peso and the Detective Emilia Cruz series into a movie, who would be your dream team?
"I have actually just signed an option contract for the Detective Emilia Cruz series to become a television show! This is a huge turning point, even if I can’t say what will happen next or speculate on the cast!

I can think of a few places where filming should take place. One is the Camino Réal hotel in Acapulco, which has a pool with a waterfall that inspired that sexy scene in the first Emilia Cruz novel, CLIFF DIVER. Another is Sinfonia del Mar, the breathtaking outdoor amphitheater where everyone goes to watch Acapulco’s sunsets. A pivotal scene in KING PESO took place in the amphitheater just as the sun sank into the ocean. It would be gorgeous on film."
What do you like to write and read about? Do you stick to a particular genre or do you like to explore different ones?
"I love to write mysteries with a strong steak of romance and romantic thrillers with a delicious hint of mystery. I want to keep readers engrossed until the end when they clap a hand to their chest and let out the breath they’ve been holding.

I read mysteries, too, and love the ones that like mine, turn on inter-personal relationships rather than forensic science. I also love a well crafted piece of literary fiction, as well as history, memoirs, and biographies. Few of my readers know that I have a big collection of books on polar history and am always looking for obscure titles."
What is your writing process?
"I’m an outline addict. Before I start a novel I create an outline. I scribble “scenes” on sticky notes and post them on a wall. I’ll arrange and rearrange until I like the flow at which point I’ll tape them to a poster and hang it over my desk.

That preliminary outline usually survives to about the middle of the book, at which point I’ll have had better ideas and will repeat the sticky note process. For KING PESO, I did this three times. By time the book was done, the last poster was a mess, with some stickies overwritten in red and others hidden behind a snowfall of new ones."
What is in store next?
"My next book is AWAKENING MACBETH, a romantic thriller with a paranormal twist that is up for nomination [and now in review] on the Kindle Scout website, where readers help select books for publication by Kindle Press. Hopefully, that will have a December 2016 publication date.

After that, I’ll be back to Detective Emilia Cruz with PACIFIC REAPER, the 5th book in the series which is slated for release in February 2017.

I’m not a swift writer, but usually manage to keep fans updated on my weekly blog at  and my monthly Mystery Ahead newsletter."
And as a final quirky thing, to get to know you a little bit better... do you have a pet or something that is special to you that you could share with us?
"My husband and I rescued a Shepherd-Lab mix six months ago and he now rules the house! Dutch is a real character and we’ve decided his “breed” is “attention hound.” He and I take power walks twice a day or visit the dog park where he is the social secretary.

He likes to have all my attention all the time. When I sit at my desk too long, he’ll bop me on the hip with his nose to remind me to give him some love.

We’re trying to train him not to get on the furniture but it’s an uphill battle. If only he wasn’t so darn cute."

Hello naughty Dutch, you are gorgeous! Lots of belly rubs to you, Dutch, from all of us at BooksChatter!
And, Carmen, thank you so much for sharing him with us :-D

"Many thanks for having me and happy reading! All the best, Carmen"

King Peso
Available NOW!

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Goddess Fish Promotions said...

Thanks for hosting!

Carmen Amato said...

Thanks so much for having me and for all the great questions!

Victoria Alexander said...

Great post! Dutch is beautiful :D

Anonymous said...

How cool that you got to guest-DJ an NPR show!


Carmen Amato said...

Thanks! Trying to teach him to roll over today :)

Carmen Amato said...

Thanks! I'd never done anything like that and it was very cool to sit in the sound booth and try not to sound nervous! If you'd like to listen to the show, here's the link:

Nikolina said...

I really enjoyed reading your interview, thank you!