Thursday, June 6, 2013


HANK PHILLIPPI RYAN: Kangaroo? You'll see in a minute.

But I was looking through all the books we talked about yesterday--and it's so fascinating to see what a range there is! From Liz Mugavero's  fun cozy KNEADING TO DIE to the Susan Elia McNeal's smart
historical adventure HIS MAJESTY'S HOPE to Debs police procedural THE SOUND OF BROKEN GLASS to the oh-so-contemprary struggles in Jon McGoran's DRIFT to the downright creepy insidious nightmare-inducing NOS4ATU by Joe Hill.

Which is what I'm reading right now. And I almost..don't want to. It's so creepy--not gory-creepy, but shiver up the back creepy, that reading it at night is not quite..comfortable.
Which is the whole point.  It's scary good.

So you know how much we love to introduce you to new authors--Colby Marshall has a thriller THE TRADE coming out any second now--and her debut CHAIN OF COMMAND now on sale! And she says: Be very afraid. That's the whole point.


I have a confession to make: I am not fearless.

When you write about and read about all things terrifying, it’s easy to pretend you have it so together that nothing scares you, but the truth is, one of the reasons I write about the creepy, frightening side of the human race is because it does scare me.  So do kangaroos.  I was kicked by a beast of one of those once, but I think that’s another story for another time.

While researching for books, I consult with a forensic psychiatrist on different motivations a killer in a specific novel might have. Usually, when I explain my scenario to him, he references his own real-life cases to explain to me why the diagnosis of a particular mental disorder or personality disorder may fit the character in question. Stories I write tend to start with the seed of a true crime article or book I’ve read somewhere along the line. The tiny spark lit by the article will then ignite in my mind, where I twist it into something that could actually happen and maybe even does.

Trust me, this makes for some unsettling moments.  At least when a kangaroo kicks you, you know the face of the evil you’re facing. When your imagination is wild, you can work yourself up pretty well. I tend to lock my bedroom door behind me at night, even when all of the doors of my home are locked, too. I’m not paranoid…much…but I’m aware of the how my characters are often oblivious, too, right before something bad happens to them.

So if what I write or read is truly scary, then why read and write about fear and things that could really happen? Happily-ever-after and bubbly, fluffy fairy tales would be so much more fun, right?


I think people do need happily-ever-after, and I think they need fluff, too.  But that said, I think fear is needed, too.  Fear is a reminder that for every time there's something of which we’re afraid, there’s a brave soul inside willing to combat the apprehension. Sure, we love the adventure and thrills we’re greeted with per minute in these types of books, but we also love the characters we root for.

 We find ourselves pulling for the good guys to win, because we see the parts of us in them that won’t give up. 
In characters who fight for the good in any story, we recognize a little bit of ourselves: the parts of us we have to believe could survive, could stand for justice, and could rage against the evil in our society if we were faced with the scenarios our favorite characters are.

In other words, through fear, we find hope.

Do you write or read scary books? Why or why not? Is there anything so scary you’ll shy away from reading or watching?  A signed copy of my new book, THE TRADE, which comes out June 11--to one lucky commenter!



 Writer by day, ballroom dancer and choreographer by night, Colby has a tendency to turn every hobby she has into a job, thus ensuring that she is a perpetual workaholic.  In addition to her 9,502 regular jobs, she is also a contributing columnist for M Food and Culture magazine and is a proud member of International Thriller Writers and Sisters in Crime.

  She is actively involved in local theatres as a choreographer as well as sometimes indulges her prima donna side by taking the stage as an actress.  She lives in Georgia with her family, two mutts, and an array of cats that, if she were a bit older, would qualify her immediately for crazy cat lady status. 

 Her debut thriller, Chain of Command is about a reporter who discovers the simultaneous assassinations of the President and Vice President may have been a plot to rocket the very first woman—the Speaker of the House—into the presidency.  Chain of Command is now available, and the second book in her McKenzie McClendon series, The Trade, is due for publication by Stairway Press in June 2013.   

Chain of Command is now available at Amazon, Barnes and Noble, Sony, iBooks, Kobo, other major e-readers, directly from the publisher at (free shipping), or in select independent bookstores.
Watch the official book trailer for Chain of Command here:  

The Trade (due out June 11, 2013): Stolen lives…
Reporter McKenzie McClendon is on the trail of her next hot story, tracking a sadistic serial killer known as The Cradle Robber. This brutal murderer preys on pregnant women, slicing their infants from their wombs, leaving the helpless women to die while he disappears with their babies.

Aided by former Navy SEAL Noah Hutchins and a clever FBI data specialist, McKenzie races to unravel the web of lies, drawing dangerously closer to the ruthless, brilliant surgeon at the heart of the maze. With a child’s future hanging in the balance, the lives of five people careen toward a terrifying collision. It’s up to McKenzie to discover which key will unlock the puzzle, and which will get her killed.

The Trade is currently available for pre-order on with free shipping, and until it’s release date on June 11, you can pre-order The Trade together with a copy of Chain of Command and get BOTH for only $19.99 (over $31 separately)!  Will be available on Amazon, Barnes and Noble, iBooks, Kobo, and other major e-readers June 11, 2013.

Watch the official book trailer for The Trade here:  You can learn more about Colby and her books at 


  1. Do I read scary books? Yes and no . . . those really, really creepy nightmarish ones get left on the shelf for someone else. Otherwise, it’s all good. “The Trade” sounds quite intriguing . . . it’s going onto my ever-growing stack of to-be-read books . . . . Now, Colby, if you would please tell us about the kangaroo . . . .

  2. Hi Colby,

    Love reading scary mysteries! And I'm having a good time writing one right now. So maybe it's not that scary?

    I don't know why, but my father used to warn me about kangaroos. He warned me about the weirdest things, "Stay away from the South. They eat rice. Japan is good. Go there. Yes, they eat rice. But they don't have potatoes, so it isn't their fault." Kangaroos he never had an explanation for.

  3. In our family The Kangaroo is our daughter's 10-1/2 month foster child. He is not evil but he does not like to sleep.

  4. I love a good scary book, no doubt about it. In the morning, when I am still awake because of it, I might regret it. But it's all good while in the process of reading.

    The Trade sounds intriguing Colby. Thanks for stopping by and adding a few more books to all our TBR piles. ;-)

  5. Marianne in MaineJune 6, 2013 at 8:44 AM

    Hi Colby. Thank you for letting us get to know you and your books. I'm a political wonk so I really want to read CHAIN OF COMMAND. It's on my TBR list as of right now.

    Scary stuff? I don't usually gravitate toward it. I'm not a big Stephen King book fan, for example, although I like the man a lot and thoroughly enjoyed 11.22.63.

    But I'm willing to give it a shot.

  6. Welcome Colby. I do like scary books, probably because I don't see myself as being that fearless in real life. Although I did once pick up a broken tree branch and chase a creepy guy away from the slide in the park.

    And yes, tell us about the kangaroo!

  7. Hi Colby, welcome to the Jungle! I have never heard about a kangaroo kicking so that is good to file away:).

    I am not good at scary books--I have enough trouble sleeping as is. You have such a fascinating resume. With all those cats, plus theatre and dancing and choreography, you have the perfect ingredients for a cozy mystery! Have you included the dance background in any of your writing?

  8. Well, I love Stephen King--not the Cujo/Christine gory ones, but the sinister ones like The Stand. I'm so eager to see Under the Dome on TV-I was riveted to that book!

  9. HI Colby, I love a good scare in a book, it's much easier for me to imagine my own evil guy then having some screenwriter/actor show me the face of evil.
    So I relish in the scary evil doers of my go to authors and yes yours is going on my tbr pile.

  10. Hank - My signed copy of Under the Dome is one of my most prized possessions. Can't wait for the mini-series.

  11. Oh, we can call watch it together on Twitter, right?

  12. Colby, I love scary books and am glad to add yours to my TBR right now! Woohoo, new author!

    Visited Australia for the first time last year and while I loved it and especially Sydney (WHY don't we have anything like VIVID Sydney here?, the truth is that everything on that continent is pretty much out to kill you. Obviously, Australians have embraced this, as they generally don't do hand railings, keep the edges sharp and "welcome" signs casually contain warnings about two or three local creatures or features that have you in the crosshairs.

    So, one of life's little lessons: I would much rather READ about danger than experience it. Thank heavens for thriller writers!

  13. Welcome to Jungle Red, Colby.

    Scary books: I write them and I read them. I like the ones that earn their scariness through character, not by manipulating the reader. It's a fine line.

  14. Scary books can be fun! I used to read Stephen King but after Cujo came out I went on strike. Why do innocent pets and good guys have to die? Oh well. I do watch TV and movie versions of his books. Love the evil red-eyed kangaroo featured. We still laugh about the killer rabbit on Monty Python.
    Now, as to scary. There's spooky scary, suspenseful scary; I adore both of those. Not gory scary. Too much of that in movies and so much of it is in lieu of a plot. Oh well. I look forward to reading your books.

  15. I like atmospheric and moody books for sure. Creepy and spooky are also good. Gillian Flynn's latest creeped my out and so did Tara French's latest. They twist reality so well.

    Sociopathic behavior fascinates me. Probably scares me most of all, because sociopaths are our neighbors! Gives me shivers. (Check out the latest "Psychology Today" for a great article.)

    Thanks for sharing yourself with us, Colby!

  16. Hello, hello! I'm sorry I'm dropping in a little late. The baby and I had a playdate this morning.

    Thank you, Joan! I hope you enjoy it.

    Reine- what is your mystery about?

    Jerry- ha! "The Kangaroo" sounds like a name I would use for an assassin in a book :-)

    Kristopher- I've had those books that have kept me awake all night, too. A few nights ago, somehow my brain got stuck thinking about Red Dragon, and I couldn't sleep for hours!

    Marianne- I hope you enjoy Chain of Command! I love some of Stephen King's work, like Shawshank Redemption, etc., but with his work, I tend to gravitate toward the more realistic.

  17. Darlene- hold onto your hat...the kangaroo story is coming!

    Lucy--to date, I haven't included dance in my writing, but I haven't discounted the idea of doing so. Maybe I should write a theatre cozy! That could be fun.

    Deb- thank you so much. I do hope you like it.

    Kristi- thanks for adding me to your to read pile! I would love to go to Australia, though if I do, I will bring my protective gear and body armor.

    Hallie, you're so right. That is a fine line to walk. I have one character in The Trade that walks that line, so I was so careful with every word I chose for said character so that the reader can go back and see how it all ties up. It was a fun puzzle!

    Pat- Psychological suspense tends to scare me the most. When I first read Mary Higgins Clark's A Cry in the Night, it was terrifying to me even though it's so subtly scary at the beginning.

    Lisa, if sociopathic behavior fascinates you, you will probably LOVE The Trade. I know I'm biased, but trust me on this. ;-) (let's just say sociopathic behavior fascinates me, too, and I've studied it a lot)

  18. Okay, I'll indulge you guys with the kangaroo story: when I was in college, I worked in the exotics ward of the college of veterinary medicine at my school as a technician. One day, we treated a kangaroo from the zoo; it had a torn ACL, so we were trying to prep him for surgery. I had never restrained a kangaroo, so I had no idea that holding legs where we would say, hold any other type of animal, was a bad idea. Suddenly, I the air went out of me, and I was knocked across the whole room into a wall. That bastard had kicked me! I ended up in the emergency room with a British vet wearing Harry Potter scrubs, who was trying to explain to triage that I had been, "Kicked by a bloody kangaroo!" They would not accept this as truth, and kept saying, "Sir, you're going to have to tell us what REALLY happened and stop joking..." We finally conveyed the problem, and I left after x-rays to make sure I had no broken ribs (none- just some big bruises). And that, my friends, was the beginning of my stormy relationship with the kangaroo.

  19. *Waves to Colby*

    I will never look at kangaroos the same way again!

    Scary books: I love to read them, but I don't do well at writing the really scary stuff. Suspense, sure, but I can't write gore.

    Hank, I have heard really good things about Joe Hill's new one, which is already in my TBR. I may have to move it up!

  20. Thanks for dropping by, LynDee! And I'm glad I had a chance to warn you about the 'roos before it was too late!

  21. I am STILL laughing about the kangaroo. And I can just envision them not believing you..a WHAT? SO funny, Colby!
    And yeah, The Kangaroo is a PERFECT bad guy name. What would he do?

  22. Oh, Colby, you just sold me even more on THE TRADE!

  23. Hi Colby. Great story about the kangaroo. It sounds like a terrific plot point for scary mystery -- the kind where no one believes the victim.

    I actually lived that story once... not the kangaroo part but the not believed part. A man was stalking me. He would come into my backyard and look in the windows, leave his prints on the glass, tracks in the mud, and destroy things in my yard and on the patios.

    My own family downplayed all the incidents, even when I pointed him out in the back yard. He was standing there 10 feet away just looking back at us. My husband and son thought I was mistaken. They said he was just taking a shortcut, or he was the meter reader.

    No one believed that he was stalking me. I left his prints in place, but I could not get anyone to respond. The sheriffs department never checked. Then he killed my friend down the road. When they came to talk to me they said there was no record of my calls. I pointed out the prints. Still they never checked the prints or any of the items he destroyed.

    He was arrested in Santa Monica several months later. He's in prison now. God only knows if he killed others in the interim.

    This is not what my book is about, but it did move me to start writing the one that had been festering inside me for years. It's about a woman who, after her closest friend is murdered, realizes that she knows far too many people who have been murdered by serial killers. She determines to find out how this can be.

    Thank you for asking.

  24. Hank- I'm not sure. The Kangaroo name would have to play into his M.O., so I'm thinking crushed ribs. This has me thinking now! I'm glad the story made you laugh. It still makes me crack up when I tell people about it, because the ER trip was probably the most interesting I've been on yet!

    Lisa- I'm so glad! The Trade does contain several different characters of, um, "interesting" persuasions ;-)

    Reine- Yike! I'm so glad they caught the guy. And you hit the nail right on the head in that one of the scariest aspects of a lot of crimes is that people tend to not believe the victim if the situation isn't "normal." What IS a normal crime, then? Yikes. Especially since lots of criminals turn out to be fine, "upstanding" citizens. Best of luck with your mystery. The topic sounds fascinating! Is this a work in progress, or do you have a planned release? Sounds like something I would adore, since, unfortunately, I've known more than one sociopath in real life (scary stuff, but I feel like your character. Luckily my encounters were more with generalized creeps than murderers, but the personality type is scarily similar.)

  25. Colby- it's a work in progress. I hope to have something to submit within the year. Thank you for the encouraging words.

    Yes, sociopaths can be anyone with no conscience. Could be a a homeless drifter like the man who killed my friend, someone who wants your job, your financial advisor, or your doctor. They are everywhere. Any one of them could kill given motivation.

  26. Hi Colby:

    I loooooove scary books; but I have to admit Joe Hill scares the bejesus out of me. Not sure I can read his new one. So much looking forward to reading glad you stopped by.

    A fellow crazy cat lady ... I have 5. No I lie , I only have 2, my boys also have 2, and the 5 th one just tolerates our presence in her house.

  27. Colby,
    really looking forward to your new book. Can't wait to read it. My wife and I honeymooned on a sheep station on Kangaroo Island, Australia. Love to hear more about the Kangaroo

  28. Reine...I'm so sorry... love you so much.

    Lora! I'm with you. I turn the pages carefully, and truly consider, very time, whether to go on. But he's such a good writer!

    WildeBill-how wonderful! That's quite a unique honeymoon!

    Colby! Thank are amazing!

  29. Lora--I've never read any of Joe's work before. I think I'm going to have to try it to see if I can stand the heat :)

    WildeBill- did you hang out with kangaroos on your honeymoon? Were they civil? I typed the whole kangaroo story a little ways up in the comments, by the way, in case you might've missed it!

    Hank, it's been such a pleasure. Thank you for having me!

  30. We love you, Colby! xo

    Coming up tomorrow--something that's NEVER been on Jungle Red!

  31. It looks like the winner of the signed copy of THE TRADE is WildeBill! WildeBill, if you will please e-mail me at colbymarshall1 at aol dot com to claim your prize :-)

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  33. Colby; That's quite an interesting story there about the kangaroo's, but look on the bright side: you were with a vet that was awesome enough to have Harry Potter scrubs! :)