Friday, August 5, 2016

Robert Ellis: THE LOVE KILLINGS Story Map



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THE LOVE KILLINGS "Story Map"

Like THE DEAD ROOM, THE LOVE KILLINGS is set in Philadelphia in some of the streets and neighborhoods where I grew up. I'm not sure why using Philadelphia as a setting in a crime novel seems to spook everything up, but I could feel it while writing both novels. And from the number of emails I've received, readers seem to get that same eerie vibe, too. As I was putting together the story for THE LOVE KILLINGS I had certain places in mind. A few are made up, like Benny's Cafe Blue, but most are real, or for legal reasons, as close to real as real gets. I thought it might be a kick to walk readers through these locations by posting them here as a rough sketch or "story map." If anyone is visiting the city and has free time, you might want to get spooked out and take a physical tour of the novel ... a virtual walk through THE LOVE KILLINGS.

For the record ... THE LOVE KILLINGS is a work of fiction, and nothing about the novel or these photographs has anything to do with anything other than a writer's imagination.

 
A home with a view in Los Angeles
As I cruise down a narrow street on the Westside of Los Angeles I see this house and think of Detective Matt Jones living over Potrero Canyon Park with a view of the Pacific Ocean on one side, and the entire Los Angeles basin on the other.


A Mansion Outside Philadelphia in Radnor
Outside Philadelphia in a town called Radnor there's a mansion like this one. If you could ever get a look inside, I think you'd find it striking. Of course, THE LOVE KILLINGS is set in December. The leaves are down, the sky, gray -- it's dark, it's late at night with an ice-cold breeze. And as Detective Jones tours a property similar to this one with his flashlight, the hair on the back of his neck is standing on end.



A Gatehouse in Radnor
If you had just committed an unspeakable crime and were being chased by Detective Matt Jones off the grounds of a mansion in Radnor, you might hop over the wall at this gatehouse just down the hill. Remember it's dark. There's snow on the ground. Look out for the iced-over pond and that stream that runs along the narrow tree-lined road.





Fitler Commons in Center City Philadelphia
Matt needed a quite, out-of-the-way place to stay while in town. I like to think that the FBI probably keeps an apartment or two somewhere in the city for long-term guests. As I walked down Pine Street, Fitler Commons seemed just right. Fitler Square is directly across the street, with park benches and enough shadows at night to sit and watch and not be seen or caught.



Love Park and the Art Museum at the end of the Parkway
Love Park may have once been paradise to an international list of skateboarders, but in THE LOVE KILLINGS, it's a great place for Matt to drink hot coffee and try to get his murder case back on track. He guesses that he's on his own again, the case slipping away, and he might be right. What he doesn't know is that the killer is sitting on a bench right behind him. It's a pretty good view from here...




Quaint Cedar Shake Cottage in Bensalem
If you were driving through Bensalem in the Northeast, you might pass a quaint cottage like this one. It's quiet here. Peaceful. A place like Love Park to think things through on a cold winter day. A place to lay back and be warm. (Or something a shade or two darker than that!)





A Mansion in Devon on the Main Line
Philadelphia is a city of mansions. You would have to consult a historian to get a definitive reason why. I always believed that it was because of the Pennsylvania Railroad, the suburbs known as the Main Line. In THE LOVE KILLINGS Detective Matt Jones receives an invitation to an elegant estate much like this one from an anonymous text message made in the dead of night. When he arrives, the lights have been switched off for some odd reason, and that harsh wind is back. Something must be up.





The Wawa Market in Strafford
After processing a hideous crime scene all night, thank God that there's a Wawa Food Market just off Sugartown Road in Strafford that's open 24/7. Matt needs an extra large cup of piping hot coffee, but he's more interested in a Tylenol/Advil cocktail to push back the pain from those gunshot wounds he received six weeks back in CITY OF ECHOES.




Dirty Diane
It's probably a good time to introduce you to Dirty Diane. Yes, she's real. She may not say much, she may not say anything at all. The only words she knows is Click, Click, Click.






Graveyard at St. David's Church
Every thriller has to have a body count! And I imagine that at least five victims in THE LOVE KILLINGS might be buried in a peaceful setting like this one at St. David's Episcopal Church. Remember, it's December. As Matt Jones stands over five fresh graves, he notices that the undertaker is fidgeting and has a strange expression on his face. He seems worried. I wonder why?





 

Park on the Delaware River
As you may have noticed, not all corpses are buried in quiet churchyards to be remembered by their loved ones. In a thriller like THE LOVE KILLINGS, bodies are apt to turn up anywhere. This is a wonderful, conveniently remote, park off River Road in the Northeast. Complete with two benches, you'll find a magnificent view of the Delaware River as well as the Philadelphia skyline a few miles down stream. Rivers with a strong current like this one can be very useful in the disposal of a corpse, particularly after midnight on a frigid winter night when no one's watching.

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I hope you enjoyed a peek at some of the places I saw in my mind while putting this story together. I can't imagine a writer having more fun than I did in creating these two novels, these two wild tales, CITY OF ECHOES and THE LOVE KILLINGS. I hope that you get as much out of reading them as I did writing them, and that you will support the effort by posting a review on Amazon. I was always taught that it takes two people to make a story. One to think it up and tell it, and another to read it and imagine it. That we share two stories like these as writers and readers is what makes this experience so true, so spot on, so great. I wish you, your friends and family, the very best.

Robert Ellis
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Tuesday, August 2, 2016

Robert Ellis News: THE LOVE KILLINGS - Happy Publication Day!



Robert Ellis News

August 2, 2016
THE LOVE KILLINGS -- ON SALE NOW!!!

THE LOVE KILLINGS is set six weeks after CITY OF ECHOES when a new series of particularly gruesome murders occur in Philadelphia. All evidence points to the serial killer who fled Los Angeles, a man of unprecedented savagery and cunning. LAPD Homicide Detective Matt Jones is recruited by a federal prosecutor with the Department of Justice to join the FBI's special task force and hunt down this mass killer once and for all. Every aspect of CITY OF ECHOES is still in play here, twisted and all amped up. After the killer makes a horrific second strike, the search becomes frantic with Matt's ties to the murders and shocking personal history exploding before his eyes. This one's personal...

A CALL FOR REVIEWS

5 Star Reviews Help Writers Keep Writing
I was told a few weeks ago that more than two thousand readers had pre-ordered copies of THE LOVE KILLINGS. The news was terrific -- this has never happened before -- and it made my day! And now I'd like to ask you for a personal favor. If you read THE LOVE KILLINGS and really like it, please share your thoughts with others by posting a five star review on Amazon. Reviews are easy to write because they can be anything you want them to be. One or two sentences are probably the average, so the length doesn't really matter. Just blurt a few sentences out, jot them down and post your note. Posting a five star review is absolutely the best way to help spread the word about any author you care about. And doing it as close to publication day is really important because your thoughts will help set the tone for others. So after you hit the last page, take deep breath and blast away! I counting on you!

AUTHOR'S NOTE


Robert Ellis
THE LOVE KILLINGS is an experiment for me as an author in the sense that it is an actual continuation of CITY OF ECHOES, Detective Matt Jones first murder case. A lot of loose ends were still in play at the end of that first thriller, and I enjoyed every one of them. But now six weeks of story time have passed -- the chase is on -- and THE LOVE KILLINGS is off and running. While it may not be necessary to have read CITY OF ECHOES first, (and yes, several twists and turns from the first novel are openly discussed in the second), the two novels back to back deliver something more than I could have ever wished for or even imagined. CITY OF ECHOES and THE LOVE KILLINGS. I hope you love reading these two novels as much as I loved writing them!


Sleep Loose,

Robert







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Wednesday, July 27, 2016

Robert Ellis: The Genius of Gary Oldman



Oldman as Stansfield in LEON: THE PROFESSIONAL
Last week I was clicking through cable channels when I spotted one of my favorite movies, LEON: THE PROFESSIONAL, directed by Luc Besson, with lights out performances by Natalie Portman, Jean Reno, Danny Aiello, and the remarkably talented, Gary Oldman. 


A few months back we spoke about what a wonderful ride Gene Hackman has had. But after watching Oldman's performance in LEON: THE PROFESSIONAL, I can imagine how much fun this actor is having as well.

Gary Oldman as Drexl in TRUE ROMANCE
 His filmography reads like a list of some of the best films ever made on the international stage. We all know about his roles in the Batman series, and even Harry Potter. But what about the beginning? What about his brilliant performances in SID AND NANCY, BRAM STOKER'S DRACULA, the frightening pimp drug dealer in TRUE ROMANCE, and his brilliant portrayal of Ludwig van Beethoven in IMMORTAL BELOVED. Talk about range.


Oldman as Ludwig van Beethoven
I can remember watching Oldman play the role of Drexl Spivey when TRUE ROMANCE first came out. I couldn't take my eyes off the screen. I couldn't take my eyes off Oldman, with his dreadlocks, his scarred face, that blank eye, and that smoking jacket. And what about the way he spoke? That amazing dialect he came up with. Fear and terror oozed out of the actor's every pore and it was thrilling to watch. Cut that against his portrayal of Ludwig van Beethoven, and the unforgettable scene when the audience realizes that one of the greatest musicians who ever lived, maybe the greatest of them all, was deaf.

What would the history of film look like if Gary Oldman hadn't wanted to perform? What if he hadn't had the guts to walk into his first audition? Sometimes it's important to raise a hand and say thanks to such a remarkable talent like Gary Oldman.

Sleep Loose,
Robert


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Monday, July 25, 2016

Robert Ellis: THE LOVE KILLINGS Interview, Part 2



Coming August 2
Reader: It seems like you enjoy peppering your novels with all these wonderful factoids that I just can't get enough of. In THE DEAD ROOM, Teddy Mack's murder investigation uncovers little known gems like how Michelangelo learned to sculpt by breaking into the morgue at night and feeling his way through corpse after corpse. In CITY OF FIRE Lena Gamble uncovers something that blew me away as well: that if someone  comes from a family that survived the Black Plague in Europe so long ago, that person has a mutated gene and is immune to HIV. Now, in THE LOVE KILLINGS, Matt Jones comes upon a homemade silencer for a pistol that is so amazing, it has a nickname. How do you do this? Where do these cool factoids come from?

 
RE: One of my favorite comments about my work came from Michael Connelly after he read CITY OF FIRE. "Riding with Detective Lena Gamble through the hills of Los Angeles is something I could get used to," he said. "She's tough, smart, and most of all, she's real." What I like most about Michael's quote is that he used the word "real." Anyone who's read his work and is a fan like I am knows how much he values that word.




Robert Ellis
I feel exactly the same way. I want all of my novels to be about real. I want them to be set in the real world. I want that world to play the same vital role the characters are playing. And that's why I think it's so important to give the world in the novel detail. Not enough to weight it down or get in the way of story, just enough to make everything seem brighter and more real. Having Matt sift through past murder cases from real life gives the story color, and often times, as is the case with THE LOVE KILLINGS, more depth and meaning.  Adding something few people have seen before like a homemade silencer, or determining that a teenage girl is pregnant based on something seen in her mouth -- it helps make it feel real, but it also makes the writing process more alive and fun. At least for me.

Reader: But how do you do it?

The Finished Manuscript Ready & Waiting
RE: For me it happens when I begin to focus on coming up with a new story. I see something that catches my eye in the news, or in a documentary. I read something that lights up my imagination in a book, or hear a friend talking. The trick is to make yourself write it down. If I tell myself I'll remember it in the morning ... I won't! I make notes on 3x5 cards, post-its, or whatever is on hand, then start stacking them on my desk. It's been my experience that within a few days a bit of magic happens. Like some sort of honey bee that smells a flower two miles off, my mind reaches a sharper focus, and stories begin to come every day. It's like a fisherman's net that's just been cast into the sea. I start pulling these odd stories out of nowhere until my desk looks like a pile of trash! It takes a certain amount of courage to read through them all. Some are ridiculous, some were jotted down in the dark while in bed and not legible, and some don't fit what I had in mind now, but might work for a future novel. But then I come upon one of those gems you mentioned, something that's just right for my story and theme, and I realize that putting the time in was totally worth it.

Sleep loose, guys. One more week to go before THE LOVE KILLINGS is finally here!
And many thanks!
Robert


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