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Friday 30 July 2021

ℚ♫ Black Label - James L'Etoile

Today we have the pleasure of meeting up with author to talk about Black Label (, Level Best Books, 270 pages), a Crime Thriller.

"James L'Etoile's BLACK LABEL is a delightfully complex and twisty thriller with a ripped-from-the-headlines plot that will make you think long and hard before you swallow your next dose of medication. Add in an intrepid heroine willing to do whatever it takes to uncover the truth no matter the cost, and L'Etoile's newest offering is a winner!" - Karen Dionne, author of the #1 international bestseller THE MARSH KING'S DAUGHTER and THE WICKED SISTER

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

A very warm welcome to James L'Etoile; thank you for joining us on BooksChatter!

Here at BooksChatter we love music; do you have a music playlist that you used in Black Label , or which inspired you whilst you were writing it?
"I love to write with music playing in the background. While I wrote Black Label I was listening to a lot of 90’s alternate rock and some recent music. Here are some of the songs which may have influenced Jillian’s story."
Excellent selection; thank you for sharing it with us.

What was the inspiration for Black Label?

"The storyline in Black Label came while attending the Book Passage Mystery Writers Conference in Tiburon, California. A few of us writer-types were having a drink after the sessions had ended for the day and we were talking about what compels a character. Fear was a universal motivator.

I took the feelings and residue from that discussion back to my hotel room and started noodling on the fear a character would have defending herself from accusations of murder, when she’s not sure she’s innocent."
How much of yourself is reflected in this book, and how?
"There are bits and pieces of my personal experiences in this book. After spending twenty-nine years behind prison bars—working there—not sentenced there—a few characters and situations seeped into my brain. You can’t help but absorb some of the toxic violence, manipulation, and lost lives working in a maximum-security prison.

The idea of prison gangs working on the outside (true) combined with the drugs provided to parolees (also true) were included in the book from real life encounters. There were parolees who would purposely violate their parole to return for medical treatment they couldn’t find or afford on the outside.

The topic of dementia and caring for an older parent comes up at one point and how the support system seems to disappear when they are needed. This is something I had to deal with at one time."
The first thing that draws me to a book is its cover. Can you tell us about your cover for Black Label - why you chose that concept and who the artist is.
"The publisher, Level Best Books, and I went through a series of possible cover options and we settled on a San Francisco cityscape for the location, but the ominous grey storm clouds give a hint at something brewing.

Then there’s a small graphic in the upper right representing a broken pharmaceutical capsule spilling down on the city. I like the look and the tone it carries."
Why should we read Black Label and what sets it apart from the rest? What makes your book unique?
"I’d like to think my twenty-nine years working in the California prison system helps me bring a little authenticity to the work. Daily exposure to the characters, schemes, and the power struggles in prison provided me a perspective on what desperation and hopelessness feel like.

I’m also pleased at the reception the main character, Jillian Cooper has received. She’s strong, smart, and is far from a damsel in distress."
Can you tell us something quirky about Black Label, its story and characters?
"The character name of police inspector DiManno was changed from the original drafts after a very generous donation to the Sacramento Library Foundation during a charity auction. Mario DiManno bid and won a character named after him."
Who would you recommend Black Label to and what should readers be aware of (any warnings or disclaimers)?
"I’d like to think the book would appeal to thriller fans, especially readers who like a story featuring a strong female lead. Readers who prefer a female character who doesn’t depend upon a man to come and rescue her might like Jillian’s story.

If you’ve wondered about the safety of pharmaceutical drugs, Black Label might appeal to you, also.

There is a bit of salty language, but I don’t believe it’s overdone. There is no onscreen violence. Most of that occurs off-screen and left to the reader’s imagination."
If you could / wished to turn Black Label into a movie, who would be your dream team?
Charlize Theron
"Oh, now, that’s interesting. I’d love to see Jillian Cooper played by Charlize Theron , because one, she’s incredibly talented. And two, I might get to meet Charlize Theron.

Black Label is set in San Francisco and the city is a vibrant place with multi-cultural communities with a specific feel that translated well to the page. Even people who haven’t visited the city are familiar with the landmarks and locations in Black Label."
Hyde Street looking towards Alcatraz and Fisherman's Wharf, San Francisco
What do you like to write about? Do you stick to a particular genre or do you like to explore different ones?
"I’ve written thrillers, suspense, and police procedurals. I’ve recently experimented with some speculative fiction involving some paranormal vibes and I’m waiting to see what we can do with that."
What is your writing process?
"I tend to be a morning writer. After the Corgis wake me up, we go for a walk and I muddle around plot lines and character arcs for the day as we walk. It’s helpful to get my battle plan together for the day before I sit behind the keyboard. The Corgis help with that.

I used to think I had to intricately plot out every move on index cards and spreadsheets. The process made me feel trapped and handcuffed me in a creative sense. I’ve found that I’m much more productive when I give myself the freedom to write more instinctively without a strict outline (or a net). I still have an idea where I’m going, but I give myself permission to wander down a plotline to see where it goes. If the writing keeps me interested, hopefully, the reader will find it interesting too."
What is in store next?
"Up next in July 2022 is DEAD DROP, the first in a new series set in the Arizona desert dealing with the complex issues of law enforcement and illegal immigration. Detective Nathan Parker finds he’s dependent upon the very migrants he pursued across the border for his survival."
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?
"I have two Corgis who take their roles of creative assistant/muse very seriously. They’re also certified therapy dogs we take to assisted living facilities, memory care units, and reading programs for children. Then there is a cat #NotMyCat, who “officially” lived four houses down, but moved in and meets me every morning for coffee."
Corgis in FiaB Judging NMT NMC on desk
What a gorgeous trio, and I love the corgis' uniforms. Thank you for sharing them with us.

We hope you are having a great tour!

Murder, Big Pharma and greed. One woman finds herself in the middle of it all - and it could cost her life.

Black Label
Available NOW!

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1 comment:

Wall-to-wall books said...

Great interview!
I'm a cat person myself :-)
Not really a dog person but I have always loved Corgis!!

I am reading this right now and I always picture the characters as someone I know (actor/actress) it helps me visualize the story.
I am going to put this in my review, but... I am currently re-watching Alias on Amazon Prime. And I am picturing Jillian as Jennifer Garner's character - Sydney in Alias.

Great book so far BTW!!