Thursday, February 4, 2016

Misdirection and fear...

Or how to write a novel. I talk about process today on the Henery Press blog here.

Monday, February 1, 2016

"If Sherlock Holmes were a cat..."

After a very satisfying analysis of my new "The Ninth Life," the librarian blogger says:

I would recommend the book on the basis of the narrator alone, but Simon has also constructed some interesting mysteries along the way. The conclusion is very satisfying, and leaves readers poised for more to come. Best of all, the book avoids what I refer to as “First In Series Syndrome” in which an author tries to pack in a lot of background before ever getting around to a plot or characterization. A cool, clever read with heart, just like Blackie himself.

Thank you, Bookblog of the Bristol Public Library for this lovely write-up!

Wednesday, January 27, 2016

Booklist loves "Bunnies"!

Wow, this just came out and I AM THRILLED! "When Bunnies Go Bad," my sixth Pru Marlowe pet noir will be published by Poisoned Pen Press on March 1.

Issue: February 1, 2016
When Bunnies Go Bad.
Advanced Review – Uncorrected Proof
Simon, Clea (Author)
Mar 2016. 264 p. Poisoned Pen, hardcover, $26.95. (9781464205330). paperback, $15.95. (9781464205354). e-book, $9.99. (9781464205361).
In this latest title in the only series to combine pets with noir (or a semi-tame form of noir), animal psychic Pru deals with a sneaky rabbit and finds a few bodies strung about her quaint Berkshire hometown of Beauville. It starts with an an obnoxious tourist whom Pru observes at a restaurant with his girlfriend; later she finds his body in a condo. Maybe weirder is the fact that the girlfriend needs Pru’s help with her dog, a persnickety spaniel. And let’s not forget that rabbit, a wild bunny named Henry, who is living with an 84- year-old woman. Oh, and there’s a mobster, too, whose presence somehow forces Pru to deal with some secrets of her own about her hasty exit from New York. Usually, Pru can sort out her various entanglements by hearing what the pets have to say, but this time neither the rabbit nor the spaniel are coming through clearly. The plot is nearly as challenging to follow as the critters, but once again Simon’s wacky humor—darkish but surely not black—provides more than enough entertainment.
— Amy Alessio

Genre hopping and Small-Town Cozies!

I like to think I've always straddled genres – moving from the straight ahead amateur sleuth/cozy of the Theda Krakow to the more paranormal of the Dulcie Schwartz mysteries, and mixing in some tongue-in-cheek noir for the "pet noir" of the Pru Marlowe books. But with "The Ninth Life" I've finally jumped the fence to something darker still. And I'm thrilled that I'll be on the Genre Hopping panel at Left Coast Crime in Phoenix, AZ, next month. Under moderator Ann Cleeves, I'll be joining Chris Goff, Annette Mahon, and Mette Ivie Harrison at 9:30 on Friday, Fen 26, the first full day of the conference. For cozy traditionalists – and I hope that I still rank among these, as well! – I'll be on a second panel, on Saturday, Feb. 27, 3-4 p.m., on Small-Town cozies, with Kristi Abbott, Sherry Harris, and Paige Shelton. The wonderful Leslie Budewitz will be moderating this one. Are you attending Left Coast Crime? If so, please join us!

Tuesday, January 26, 2016

Publishers Weekly likes "The Ninth Life"!

And notes that I've taken "a turn to the dark side," heh heh heh!

The Ninth Life: A Blackie and Care Mystery

Clea Simon, Author

Cozy author Simon (When Bunnies Go Bad) takes a turn to the dark side with this edgy first in a series introducing Carrie “Care” Wright, a homeless girl in her early teens who lives on the streets of an unnamed city. Care rescues a drowning cat, naming him Blackie, and the two have an instant affinity, but Blackie, who narrates the tale, is an unusual feline. Care and her foster brother, Tick, who’s about 10, live in the clutches of a gang leader, AD, but Care has been mentored by a private detective and has a chance to get out of the life until her mentor is murdered. Determined to find his killer and get Tick away from AD, Care soon finds that a pernicious drug known as scat is at the center of frightening events, including the murder of a pawn shop owner. Meanwhile, Blackie knows more than any cat should, but can’t tell Care, so he does his best to keep her safe. Noir fans who are fond of felines will find a lot to like. Agent: Colleen Mohyde, Doe Coover Agency. (Mar.)

Phew! What a relief.

Friday, January 15, 2016

Signed copies of "The Ninth Life" and "Code Grey" now in stock!

Even though "The Ninth Life" isn't officially out yet in this country, Porter Square Books in Cambridge, MA, just got some copies in. So I went over and signed them – and also some new copies of "Code Grey," the latest Dulcie Schwartz mystery (out a few months ago). As you can see, I'm beginning to take over a shelf there! Porter Square is a wonderful indie, with fair prices and a grand selection (and a nifty little coffee/treat café too). Drop by, if you can - or call 617-491-2220 to order your signed, first-edition of "The Ninth Life" (or any other books).

Thursday, January 14, 2016

Thinking of David Bowie

Like so many of us, I've been thinking a lot about Bowie this week and trying to understand why his death has hit so hard. It started on Monday morning, when I was speaking to an older friend, who knew of Ziggy but little else. She likened him to Fats Domino, and my response was "Yes, but..." Of course, some of that is because I can't ever fully understand what Fats means to her or meant to her in her youth. But as I read and listen (and listen and read), I am struck not just by Bowie's breadth as a musician, but by his fearlessness and generosity as an artist.

Unlike so many pop/rock stars, he was so much more than one sound, one note, or even one persona. As Johnny Angel Wendell has pointed out, Bowie came out back when it was career suicide to do so. And while he was never a front-line advocate for LGBTQ or any other causes (though he did call out MTV's racism back in '83), he embodied the idea of individuality, most notably via gender fluidity, that our gender and our sexuality - our essential selves - were our own, that (in an era and field of incredible machismo) vulnerability is part of the human condition, that we all feel isolated at times, "and it was alright."

As Iggy Pop recalled in the New York Times (and Ian Hunter certainly could), he was also a generous collaborator, writing and producing and bringing out the best in others. And while Joanie Lindstrom (on the Late Riser's Club this morning) pointed out that "we all had periods where we ignored him," Bowie never stopped innovating. And a lot of that music - as we are hearing again, this week - is mind-glowingly good.

There is a reason for that consistent quality, for a career that spanned four decades: I've now read several interviews in which he espouses principles I too try to follow - notably that when the work feels too safe, it's time to move on - and I only hope I can do so with as much courage as he did. So, yes, David Bowie was a pop star and I didn't know him. But he was also one of the great artists of my time, and I am mourning his loss.

Wednesday, January 13, 2016

Want a SIGNED copy of my books?

Just heard that the wonderful indie Porter Square Books now has CODE GREY and THE NINTH LIFE in stock (that's right, BEFORE the March 1 release date), so I'm going over to sign copies! I may not get there until Saturday (busy writing) but that's good news -- if you call and order a copy, I can personalize one for you: 617-491-2200 (and, yes, they ship!). P.S. - They've got a bunch of my older books, too!

Friday, January 8, 2016

The librarians are coming!

The librarians are coming to Boston! ALA Midwinter is why - this weekend at the Boston Convention Center. And Sisters in Crime New England is hosting a booth, #1173 in the exhibition hall. I'll be there on Monday, noon-2 p.m., but it will be staffed all weekend long with books to giveaway, bookmarks, and other swag. If you're attending #ALAMIDWINTER please drop by!

Here's the full schedule of who and when:

Monday, December 14, 2015

"You can feel the terror..."

Journey of a Bookseller has posted the first online review of my "The Ninth Life," and I'm so happy.
""You can feel the cold, the hunger and the terror," she says. "This was a good read." (For the full review, click here. Thank you!

Wednesday, December 9, 2015

THE NINTH LIFE for Christmas?

Want your copy of "The Ninth Life" by Christmas? Today is the last day to order from The Book Depository (the book ships FREE from the UK – US publication isn't until March 1). Of course, my other books are available widely – and I'm available to sign/mail signed bookplates. Just email me for details!

Thursday, December 3, 2015

Holiday shoppers, start your engines

OK, you've probably already started (hey, Chanukah begins on Sunday!). But I just found out about the Book Depository, which sells books from their original pub dates BEFORE THEY COME OUT IN THE U.S. Plus, they do so AT A DISCOUNT and SHIP FREE WORLDWIDE! Can you tell I'm excited? Because you know I'm psyched for the March 1. U.S. publication of my new, darker cat mystery, "The Ninth Life." But if you want it NOW (or want to give it as a gift, hint hint), you can get it in less than a week at 21% off here! Yup, the price just dropped again. Check it out! (Oh, and they have lots of other books too.)

Fair warning: Amazon recently bought the Book Depository, but ... well, there you have it.

Wednesday, December 2, 2015

Mystery Gala at New England Mobile Book Fair!

Mystery Gala at New England Mobile Book Fair

New England Mobile Book Fair, 82-84 Needham Street, Newton Highlands, MA
Thursday, December 3, 2015 6:00 pm to 9:00 pm

Okay folks, listen up. This is the FOURTH ANNUAL mystery night featuring New York Times best selling authors from in and around New England. Tom Lyons (pictured below in his native habitat) continued the mystery night tradition started by the iconic (but sadly closed) Kate's Mystery Books in Cambridge, Massachusetts. Kate Mattes, owner, will be honored with the Robert B. Parker Award! Over fifty authors will be there (that is in number, not of a certain age) from best selling authors, to local faves, to hot indies. (Go ahead, think what you want!) Many members from Mystery Writers of America and Sisters in Crime will be there, too.

It's a terrific night and not one to miss.

Meet the authors! Get your books signed/personalized! Buy holiday gifts your friends and family will remember!

This year, the New England Mobile Book Fair will be honoring mystery fiction stalwart Kate Mattes – longtime proprietor of Kate's Mystery Books in Cambridge, with its Robert Parker Award. Come for the festivities – and buy some books too!

Dozens of authors (see list below) will be signing in shifts (6-7,7-8) tomorrow - THURSDAY, DEC. 3.
I'll be signing from 7-8 p.m.

Which authors do you want signed books from? Here's a partial list in no particular order:

Susan Conant
Clea Simon
Edith Maxwell
Toni L. P. Kelner
Hallie Ephron
Bill Landay
Liz Mugavero
Marshal Stein
Coralie H. Jensen
Hank Phillippi Ryan
Sarah Smith
Dale Phillips
Leslie Wheeler
Sheila Connolly
Steven P. Marini
Gary Goshgarian
Linda Barnes
Ray Daniel
Susan Oleksiw
Lea wait
Barbara Ross
Kate Flora
Steve Ulfelder

Ben Coes
Kyle Darcey
Chris Holm
Connie Johnson Hambley
Chris Irvin
Joe Finder
Ray Anderson
Gayle Lynds
Shannon Kirk
Dick Bartlett
Lisa Lieberman
T Stephens
Barbara Struna
Jeffery Diamond
Carolyn Wilkins
Judy Copek
Ric Wasley
Arlene Kay
Daniel Palmer
David Zeltserman
Elisabeth Brink (Elo)
Len Rosen
Chris Zaniboni
William Martin
Bob Weintraub
Kevin Symmons

Tuesday, December 1, 2015

Tonight! Cozy at the Café

Kick back after work, chat with some authors, hear some readings, and buy some books at COZY AT THE CAFE! Remember books make great gifts and with a lineup that includes Dana Cameron, Hallie Ephron, J.A. Hennrikus/Julianne Holmes, Liz Mugavero, Susan Oleksiw, Toni LP Kelner, Leigh Perry, Hank Phillippi Ryan, and ME you know we're going to have some fun! Tonight – Tues., Dec. 1 – 6:30-8 p.m. at the Trident Café, 338 Newbury St., Boston.

Monday, November 30, 2015

Start the countdown!

You know I voted for C.S. Lewis...

What are the greatest British novels?

I was one of the lucky non-UK critics invited to contribute my thoughts on this list, compiled for the BBC. The results will be revealed 10 a day until Dec. 7, when the Top 20 will be unveiled. Do you agree? What's your favorite that we left out? Let us know!

Saturday, November 28, 2015

Shop Small Saturday

By now the food haze has worn off, and you're probably thinking about the holidays. (Chanukah comes early this year! And Christmas isn't that far behind.) Well, you can do good as well as purchasing good gifts by buying from an indie and, when possible, one that's local - keep that money in your community! And think about buying a book as a gift - what else gives so much pleasure for so little money? If you want something special, give a signed book. Autographed copies of my books are available at Harvard Book Store and Porter Square Books, among other stores* – and if you want a signed bookplate to insert into a book, please email me. (I'll personalize it, too.)

*I recommend calling to make sure you get a signed copy. If they don't have a signed copy on hand, order it, tell them you want it signed, and let me know – I'll go to either of these stores and sign your book before the store ships it out.

Friday, November 27, 2015

Happy UK pub day!

That's publication, though if you're in a pub, I'll raise one with you. After all, today is the UK launch day for my new, darker cat mystery, "The Ninth Life." The book, featuring a homeless girl named Care and the feral black cat who keeps her company, will be out on March 1 in the US.

Friday, November 6, 2015

Murder! Mayhem! Elizabeth George!

This must be the busiest weekend in crime fiction - Murder & Mayhem in Milwaukee, a dozen different author events, and here in New England: Crimebake! With honored guest Elizabeth George! The festivities kick off tonight and continue through the weekend. (I'm on a panel tomorrow morning at 10:10 - Avoiding the Cabot Cove Syndrome, which, as cozy writers know, is quite a challenge.) I'm not sure how much of the partying I'll get to take part of – I seem to have some kind of cold-y, flu-y thing – but I'm still looking forward to it. Maybe I'll see you there!

Tuesday, November 3, 2015

Calling all critics (and book bloggers, etc.) - review copies of THE NINTH LIFE

It's up!! The e-ARC of my upcoming (March) mystery, "The Ninth Life," is now available on NetGalley. You have to register (it's free and fast) and request the book (search either "The Ninth Life" or me, Clea Simon), but if you review in any format, you will be approved and within 24 hours you'll have a download of my dark, new cat mystery. I'm so excited about this book and hoping you'll help me spread the word. Thank you!

Thursday, October 15, 2015


Recently, on Facebook, I saw a T-shirt that read: Writing is like riding a bicycle. Only the bicycle is on fire, and you are on fire, and everything is on fire, and you are in hell." For some reason, this is making the rounds among writer friends.

This week, I started revising my next Dulcie mystery, and now I remember why. Most days, I like writing. And I know revising is necessary. At times, it can even be fun – polishing that perfect scene. Retrofitting the clue in the perfect obscure location. Only, sometimes it's not. When I reached the end of the first draft of this manuscript, I felt I had tied everything up in a reasonable and satisfying manner. Only to do so, I had Dulcie remembering things that hadn't yet been written into the preceding pages and realizing the significance of comments that hadn't yet been said. So now I'm back at the beginning, trying to figure out not only where all those clues and conversations fit, but also revising several of my characters, now that I've reached the end and see what their real experiences (and, thus, motivations) are. In a way, it's like cleaning house after a wild storm has been through it. Only not only is a lot of the crockery broken and in need of replacement, many of the shelves the pots and pans belong on haven't even been built yet.

It is a tad daunting. I will not be daunted. Carry on!

Wednesday, October 7, 2015

Sigh... (reading proofs)

Last week, I sent off the page proofs for The Ninth Life. It was excruciating, knowing that this was my last chance to make any changes in this book, which I love so much. Of course, at this point in the process – after editing and revisions, after copy editing – I'm not supposed to be making changes. I'm supposed to be looking only for actual errors (like when "Care" is spelled "Car"). Still, my publishers humor me, and I kept my changes to a spare 34. Only, last night, while I was reading an excerpt preview at the Curtis Memorial Library, I noticed that I used one word three times in a paragraph. And there would have been a simple substitution. Sigh...

Now I'm reading the proofs of When Bunnies Go Bad and wondering what I will miss...

Thursday, October 1, 2015

Get ready for "Cozy at the Café"!

Maybe you've heard of Noir at the Bar, a crime fiction reading series here in Boston? Well, the lovely and talented Toni L.P. Kelner has decided that we gentler types should have our night out, too. And so on Dec. 1 (that's a Tuesday), she's called a bunch of us together for Cozy at the Café, to be held at the Trident Café on Newbury Street in Boston, starting at 6:30 and running till we run out (probably around 8:30 or so). Eight of us – Toni, Hank Phillippi Ryan, Dana Cameron, Susan Oleksiw, Hallie Ephron, J.A. Henries, Liz Mugavero, and myself – will be reading, chatting, and giving away some fun swag. Come join us!

Tuesday, September 29, 2015

And still more kind words for "The Ninth Life"

I wasn't sure what Dana Cameron would say. I wasn't sure this multiple-award-winning author would even have the time to look at The Ninth Life, the first book in my new Blackie and Care series. But she did, responding with this:

The Ninth Life is a tour through a criminal wilderness of alleys and gutters, guided by a hunter as canny and fierce as they come. While Care is a smart, tough, and vulnerable young protagonist, narrator Blackie steals the limelight, showing us these dark places through his sharp feline eyes. A good noir tale will reveal a shadowy existence that parallels our own; Clea Simon goes many steps beyond, creating a terrific story that draws us in and makes us relate to a narrator whose life is a world away from our own.
–Agatha, Anthony and Macavity Award winner Dana Cameron

Wow, am I flattered! Thank you, Dana! And, yes, you can read more and pre-order "The Ninth Life." Please click here.

Friday, September 25, 2015

More advance praise for "The Ninth Life"

The multiple-award-winning Hank Phillippi Ryan also read an advance copy of my "The Ninth Life" and had kind things to say.

"A tour de force of point of view – the talented Clea Simon flawlessly portrays a main character the likes of which we've never encountered! With skill and style and profound understanding, she entertains readers with an exciting, compelling, and utterly unique adventure."
Hank Phillippi Ryan, Agatha, Anthony and Mary Higgins Clark Award winning author

Wow! Thank you, Hank!

Wednesday, September 23, 2015

Getting some advance blurbs for "The Ninth Life"

Joe Finder, New York Times bestseller, read an early version of "The Ninth Life" and was so kind as to send me this:

"Forget everything you think you know about 'cat mysteries.' The Ninth Life is a dark and gritty story of life on the streets, told from the unique point of view of a narrator who sees things humans can't. Clea Simon has given us a window into a world of constant and surprising dangers, frustrations and almost unbearable tension, and it's one I won't soon forget." -

Joseph Finder, New York Times bestselling author of The Fixer and Suspicion

Wow! Thank you, Joe!

Tuesday, September 22, 2015

My home site is now up to date!

Complete with a "books" page listing all my series books in order and lots of upcoming events. Please drop by and let me know what you think. (Click here for my home page.)

Monday, September 21, 2015

"Kittens Can Kill" "will have fans looking forward to the next installment." How nice!

Bella Online reviews "Kittens Can Kill" today, praising the "well drawn" characters who are "comfortable in their own skin" and noting that despite "many clues and red herrings, the reveal at the end was still a surprise." Overall, she concludes, "this interesting who-done-it will have fans looking forward to the next installment." Isn't that nice? Thank you, Bella Online! Read more here.

Friday, September 4, 2015

And I'm one of her favorite cat cozy authors, too! How nice!

"a good, engrossing mystery with interesting characters," says Socrates Book Reviews of my new Code Grey. "You can’t help but keep turning the pages to see what Dulcie does next." There's more, as you can read here. (And this is also one of the last chances to enter to win a free copy.)

Wednesday, September 2, 2015

"A great story" 4 stars for "Code Grey" (thank you!)

Book Babble reviews "Code Grey," saying in part: "Ms. Simon writes a great story, with very interesting characters. The staff at the library, Dulcie's boyfriend, Dulcie's mother, and many others add color and depth to the story." How nice! Want to read more? Click here.

Monday, August 31, 2015

"Fascinating details ... very well done" Thank you!

The book blog Laura's Interests took on my "Code Grey" today, with an excerpt and a detailed, insightful review that says, in part, "I love learning about many different topics as I read cozies. Cozy authors research the most interesting minute details for us and find the most creative ways to work them into novels.
Code Grey relates fascinating details not only about academic and literary life but also about history of other importance. ... The writing is very well done." To read more, click here.

Sunday, August 30, 2015

Who would steal a book?

That's the question at the heart of my new Dulcie Schwartz mystery, "Code Grey." It's also a question I discuss in my guest post in today's Omnimystery News. To read more, please click here.

Saturday, August 29, 2015

On writing with a cat (it's not all fur and games)

She may be my muse, but she can be a complicated collaborator. (I guest blog about writing "Code Grey" on Melina's Book Blog). And Melina calls my book "entertaining," saying it "kept her guessing." Thank you! Read more here.

Friday, August 28, 2015

Catch up with my blog tour (and enter to win a free copy of "Code Grey") here!

It may still be summer, but I'm busy with my Great Escapes blog tour – chatting about Code Grey, posting essays and guest blogs, and garnering some lovely reviews. My summer blog tour continues up till Labor Day. If you've missed any, you can catch up here.

Don't forget to comment – my lovely hosts are gathering entries for a book giveaway!

The Boyfriend Factor: romance and cozies

In keeping with the romance theme of Bab's Book Bistro, I guestblogged about "The Boyfriend Factor," and how I try to keep the romance – and the characters – fresh in my Dulcie Schwartz mysteries. Read more here.

Thursday, August 27, 2015

An interview by Truffles!

This interview almost didn't happen because the book blogger was going through some heartbreak. But the idea of a comforting feline ghost hit home, and so I agreed to be interviewed by the late, great Truffles.

Read more here.