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Monday, 3 August 2020

ℚ Spent Identity: Annalisse [2] - Marlene M. Bell

Today we have the pleasure of meeting up with author to talk about Spent Identity (, Ewephoric, 380 pages), a Mystery, book two in the Annalisse series.

"The story is welcoming and vibrant, and much of it is nuanced and warm. When Bell aims for fun adventure, she hits the bull's-eye." - Booklife Review

"Fans of well-constructed cozy mysteries will hungrily devour this sophisticated, clever crime novel." The Prairies Book Review

"The author has a keen eye for the corrosive effects of long-standing secrets, especially those that haunt families. In addition, the story marches to its conclusion at an indefatigable pace, breathlessly action-packed." - Kirkus Reviews

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

A very warm welcome to Marlene M. Bell; thank you for joining us on BooksChatter!

What was the inspiration for Spent Identity?

"When I met my husband in 1979, he was in the middle of a nasty divorce.  They were in the process of selling the ranch they’d built together when oil prices were high and banks were loaning at a whopping 17% interest rate.  No one could afford expensive homes in the Tracy, California area at that time.  His soon-to-be-ex made outrageous personal charges, and her attorney letters were an everyday occurrence.  I could write an entire novel over her accusations.  It was a miserable three years for the man I dated.

When she left and filed for divorce, she also stripped their ranch of furniture and all that wasn’t tied down.  Brought a moving truck home one day and took everything inside their home.  A hateful thing to do.  The neighbor had watched the van fill up with belongings and told my husband this happened while he remained at work.

After we married, the old ranch finally sold—with a first mortgage, a second mortgage and my husband’s ex-wife and new husband carrying back the third note.  Thankfully, we were out of that arrangement living on a small ranch of our own.  (They later sold that third note for cash and lost half of the value!)

After the sale, I packed the kitchen drawers at the old ranch and found something interesting.  One of the bottom drawers had condolence letters inside.  While my husband packed from another room, I nosed around the envelopes.  It’s a terrible thing to read another person’s mail, but in this case, I made an exception.  They were all addressed to my husband’s hellish ex-wife.  I was surprised to find them, especially when I skimmed a few of the notes.

I asked my husband about his ex-wife’s father since the notes told of his untimely death.  I was shocked to learn that he had been a successful dentist in the bay area and had jumped off the Golden Gate Bridge, but no one knew why.  I didn’t press further, and we gathered all of the cards and letters for the burn bin.  The story left me with so many questions.

About ten years later, my husband mentioned that he’d heard his ex-father-in-law had re-appeared in his home town.  How intriguing!  Had he faked his death because of debt?  Did he run away to be with another woman, or man?  I have to wonder why he came back when he’d hatched the perfect escape plan.  It mystifies me to this day.  Read Spent Identity.  My imagination comes to a conclusion on this very topic!"
Wow! What a story! (yes, I have downloaded my copy.)

How much of yourself is reflected in Spent Identity?

"My main character, Annalisse Drury is very much like me.  She’s a professional by day and animal lover after hours.  Her personal experiences with livestock come from raising sheep on our ranch.  These sections of her past or history are the easiest to write because I can pull from my memories to fill in the blanks."

The first thing that draws me to a book is its cover.  Can you tell us about your cover for Spent Identity - why you chose that concept and who the artist is.

"The idea for the second book in the series was more difficult to imagine than book one.  I went online and searched for award winning book covers and took a look at many different designers.  I found Isabel Robalo from 99 Designs, an online source for professional designers.

Isabel is from Portugal, and her portfolio was filled with excellent covers.  Some were very stock looking where others had interesting elements to them.  I gave her my ideas and she came up with the wilted bunch of roses on Spent Identity’s cover.  This matches one of the scenes inside the book and captures the many themes throughout the pages."
What makes Spent Identity and the Annalisse Series unique?
"I would say that my writing voice is one of the reasons the series is unique.  I completely outline each one of the books before I write a single word, and layer in lots of red herrings and twists to add as much complication to the plot as possible.  My goal is to keep the reader engaged in finding out who the real bad guy or woman is until the last few pages when they’re revealed.  I like to torture my readers to stay with each chapter, trying to guess how I’m going to end the story."
Can you tell us something quirky about Spent Identity?
"Spent Identity has one character in it that follows something that happened to me in real life.  I took that event and built the entire story around what may have happened before during and after the event.  You’ll have to read the book to find out which character came from my own past!"
Are there any warnings and disclaimers for Spent Identity?
"During this book, the characters are extremely frustrated and occasionally curse.  No F-Bombs in this 2nd book.  No intimate contact between Annalisse and Alec, the main characters, but there are sections that allude to romance throughout.  The couple is trying to trust each other and get to know one another from the first book, Stolen Obsession.

This book is meant for adult readers over 18.  The profanity in Spent Identity may bother some readers.  This is not Christian fiction."
If you could / wished to turn Spent Identity and the Annalisse series into a movie, who would be your dream team?
"I would like to pair two unlikely directors together for Spent Identity.  Steven Spielberg and Clint Eastwood.  Both are seasoned directors who excel in portraying broody mysteries and real-life drama.

My lead actress to play Annalisse would be Anne Hathaway, and her love interest Alec would be played by Bradley Cooper.

The locations in the series are international— winging to places like, Crete, Turkey, Grand Cayman, New Zealand, Sicily and Southern Italy.  Home base for the movie will always be Manhattan or upstate New York where Alec’s estate is located.

I’d also have James Cameron write the screenplay based on the novel.  There’s some big bucks involved to produce this movie!!"
No kidding there! 😀   I'd definitely would like to see that screenwriter/directors combination!

What genre do you prefer to write?

"That’s an easy one.  Mystery-Suspense.  I thought I’d try my hand at romance when I first began the Annalisse series, but quickly I found a comfort and an easier stride writing twisty mysteries.  I have to work too hard with romance.  Getting relationships right is hard work to make them believable, even though it’s fiction.

I also mixed genres in the first book as a test for the readers, but that had an adverse effect in some reviews.  Romance readers cringe from too much mystery in their love stories, and they always prefer a happily-ever-after ending, even if it’s a single book in a series.

I prefer to write in the same genre that I read.  I fell out of favor with the soaring hyperbole in writers of popular romances that I used to read.  Reading all kinds of authors from cozy mystery to thrillers keeps my mind open to trying new set-ups in my mysteries.  I read books on serial killers too, to get inside minds more diabolical than my own. 😊"
What is your writing process?
"In Stolen Obsession, book one, I flew by the seat of my pants from start to finish.  It also took me eight drafts and eight years to complete because I had so many plots going on it was too difficult to keep track of characters and their problems.  By the fourth draft I cut the unnecessary fluff and got down to business.  No one said writing fiction was easy, and I found out the hard way to learn the craft first—well—then write your story.

Lesson learned, I now outline my entire book prior to beginning the first chapter.  I write much faster this way where my developmental editor can see where I’m going in that first draft!

I write as many drafts as necessary to please the multitude of editors who look at each novel.  Research is done from many sources while I write.  It’s important to get the facts accurate as the story unfolds."
What’s in store next for Marlene M. Bell in 2020 and beyond?
"Ah, that would be book three, CALICO RAVEN.  The book has a stunning cover I’ll reveal to my followers and readers in a few months.  I’m one-third of the way through the first draft.  I hope to have Calico out in early 2021 if all clips along at a good pace.  Annalisse and Alec are drawn into a murder that takes place on Grand Cayman Island.  At first, they believe the victim is random, but soon find out that Alec is tied to her by other means and Annalisse is drawn into events as well.

MIA and NATTIE: One Great Team is my picture book for children ages 3-6.  This book has gone to press and will be available in hardbound and eBook in time for the 2020 holidays.  The book will also offer the option of a plush Nattie character from the book.

The Nattie book is based on a true story of the bottle lamb we raised that lived with us for thirteen years. It’s a heartwarming, read-aloud book for your kids.  A nice break from the sea of children’s books without a plot or theme."
Marlene with Nattie
I love it.  Thank you so much for sharing, Marlene.  We hope you are having a great tour!

Farm For Sale. 360-acre lot with ranch-style home. Refurbished barn.
Corpse not included.

Spent Identity
Available NOW!

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CMash said...

WOW!!!! That is definitely an inspiration. I need to get my hands on a copy NOW!!!!!!!!!!

Marlene M. Bell said...

Thank you so much for being part of the Spent Identity/Stolen Obsession tour through Partners in Crime! I appreciate the in-depth sheep operation photos added to your blog as well. You went the extra mile, and I truly appreciate your spectacular effort in helping to make my tour a success. I hope you enjoy the Annalisse Series. All the best, Marlene M. Bell