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Interview: Leona Bodie, Author of Shadow Cay

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Can you imagine being a thriller author and married to a CSI star?  What a combination that would make!

Leona Bodie currently lives on the Treasure Coast of Florida with her husband Walter, a Miami-Dade Police Department forensic specialist for 21 years, who actually appeared in the pilot episode of the long-running TV series, CSI. Ms. Bodie and her husband often collaborate.

Originally from New Jersey, Leona’s career took her from high school English teacher to a biotechnology corporate executive and president of the Greater Miami Society of Human Resource Management before she shifted to writing books.

Leona Bodie is the author of Cocooned in Darkness the upcoming work Fear the Whispers, and her debut thriller Shadow Cay.  Ms. Bodie is the recipient of four literary awards. 

Readers may learn more about Leona Bodie and her work by visiting the following sites:

Website  | Twitter | Facebook | LinkedIn | Google+ | Goodreads | Amazon | Kindle | YouTube | Barnes & Noble | Smashwords

Please tell us a bit about your book, Shadow Cay, and what you hope readers take away from reading it.

Madeleine Nesbitt lives a privileged, sheltered life on a pristine tropical island paradise until the young girl is hauled off the deck of a capsizing ferry. Sixty-two passengers drown, trapped under the hull. Madeleine survives but her innocence dies that day.

Despite the odds, she’s resilient enough to put her life together. However, nine years later she realizes too late that catastrophe is only the beginning of the dangers that lurk ahead when another maritime disaster hits closer to home. Someone wants to make sure the Nesbitt family never makes it out of paradise alive.

Shadow Cay attracts a broad adult market that reads action/adventure/thriller novels involving deceit, intrigue, and clandestine operations. It also appeals to the regional audience that enjoys stories with Florida/Bahamian settings and a niche boating market interested in nightmares at sea. The tale propels the reader from the Bahamas to a major South Florida crime lab, gives an insider’s view of a major metropolitan police headquarters and provides a terrifying glimpse of Miami’s underbelly.

I want readers to see this book has it all: life and death, greed and humanity, real suspense with flesh and blood characters, exotic locations and plenty of plot twists.

Who are your favorite characters in the story?

Of all my characters, I truly admire Madeleine Nesbitt the most. Her bravery is unique. Although young, sheltered and naive, she’s stronger than she realizes. Even when her world falls apart, she manages—despite the odds—to pull her life together. She’s one of the strongest female characters I’ve seen in ages.

If I were to devote a spinoff character to a new series, I’d give serious consideration to Vanessa Vidal. She’s exciting with tons of nervous energy and the right touch of humanity. She’s a savvy criminalist, loving wife and nothing can stop her from following her instincts and finding her own answers, even if grappling for the truth is risky business.

Do you have a favorite line or excerpt from your book?

My favorite lines:

“Clouds, like a parade of boas, slithered across the moon, turning the sky top a charred-purple. The velvet silence provoked anxiety.”

“Like an over-ripe mango ready for plucking, the islet offered golden opportunities. Oozing out like nectar from rotten fruit, the temptations began here too.”

“Ancient coral heads, worn sharp by hundreds of years of waves and tides, had burst through the ribs of the vessels and crushed the planks. Now, speared and hacked into decaying submission, the boats littered the waterway, resting on the sandy bottom, a daily reminder of people brimming with arrogance.” 

“Maddy often walked past Holy Redeemer church. Luminously white like mother of pearl reflecting sunlight, the building shimmered in the lawn, but shadows from the church tower draped the burial ground and guarded the aboveground tombs.”

If your current release were to be turned into a movie, who would you love to see play what characters and why?

If Hollywood called, saying they wanted to turn Shadow Cay into a film, here’s who I’d cast:

AJ Hartman – John Travolta: A legend and a thriller guru, John Travolta could easily portray AJ Hartman, the maverick founder seduced by power, and technical genius behind JaHart. Though many worlds removed, the sins of his father forever haunt AJ and steer his course in the international business community. Simmering under the surface are his demons, but all the world sees is his passion for providing high quality medical solutions.

Rico Salazar – Johnny Depp: Rico Salazar is a man with no conscience who thrives on money, excitement, depravity and adventure in all its myriad forms. He’s a man who’s equally comfortable in slime and sleaze, cavorting with the “rat pack” as he is in a boardroom. I need a credible actor with a wide range to capture Rico’s duality. Johnny Depp is the only actor I know with that diversity and skill.

Madeleine Nesbitt – Rashida Jones: She fits the part – mentally, physically and emotionally! I want to capture Madeleine’s youth, her innocence, and her desperation. But at the same time, the one thing she wants most is retribution, and for that, she’s willing to take any risk. I’m convinced Rashida will bring her own brand of freshness to the role, and she’s the kind of woman, Madeleine would grow into.

Peter Duncan – Joe Mangeniello! YUM! He has experience chasing bad guys (First Blood TV show). He’s also the right age with an endearing quality and a sexy edge. Joe has a great body, looks at home at the beach, and has the vigor for an action movie. I believe he’ll deliver a gritty, authentic look at Peter Duncan’s life.

What are your favorite aspects of writing? Least favorite?

Without a doubt, channeling my muse and unfurling my imagination until I get what’s in my head on paper… that’s my favorite compulsion! It’s satisfying and always pleasing to paint a scene with words. I invoke the senses. All of them, sight and sound and smell and touch and taste, to make my world alive.

My second greatest thrill is harnessing that plot and sailing through the words. I even like trimming the flab, to keep the story flowing and focused on what really matters. In fact, if left to my natural instincts, I’d probably never stop editing, which leads directly to my least favorite aspect of writing, it’s difficult for me to let go. I’m a perfectionist so I have to be careful not to overwork a story. That also means resisting urges to store my manuscript in a drawer where it’s easily retrievable so I can work on it for a few more months, rather than letting it fly.

Who are some of your favorite authors/books?

I thought this question would be easy to answer, but it wasn’t. My list should be an obvious mix of contemporary mysteries, thrillers and suspense authors since that’s what I typically read. Yet, after considering what’s hot in my literary pipeline and several unforgettable classics, my choices turned out to be much more eclectic. My criteria broadened, evolving into a comprehensive list of authors who either moved me to read multiple titles or an entire series or perhaps their book(s) somehow influenced me.

My favorite classics:

Carolyn Keene (Nancy Drew series), John Steinbeck (The Grapes of Wrath), James Clavell (Asian Saga series — especially Tai Pan and Shogun), Margaret Mitchell (Gone with the Wind), Herman Melville (Moby Dick), Willa Cather (My Antonia) and Ken Kesey (One Flew Over the Cuckoo’s Nest).

My contemporary favorites:

Jean Auel, James Patterson (Alex Cross Series), Dean Koontz, Tess Gerristen, Robin Cook, Lisa Gardner, Lisa Unger, Mary Higgins Clark, John Sandford, John Lutz, PJ Parrish, George R.R. Martin (Song of Ice and Fire, Books 1-3) and Suzanne Collins (The Hunger Games trilogy)

What are you reading right now?

Just finished a Feast of Crows and now reading A Dance with Dragons: A Song of Ice and Fire: Book Five. George R.R. Martin is the author of both.

If you could have a dinner party and invite five authors – dead or alive – who would they be and what would you serve them?

What a hoot! At my party, my not-so-secret ingredients are Maya Angelou, Pearl Buck, James Patterson, Stephen King and Mary Higgins Clark. I’d love to dine with them. My back-up list includes Dr. Seuss, Amanda Hocking, Truman Capote and Suzanne Collins. And I wouldn’t serve them “Humble Pie.” Rather, my menu celebrates their successes. First, Hemingway’s Mojitos! Then, literary dishes inspired by Tennessee William’s plays: Grilled Ahi Tuna with Pineapple Relish, Maw Maw Lola’s Fig Preserves, and Chop Suey Soup. For the vegetarians, Mushroom Rice with cashew nuts. To finish there would be my mother’s famous Carrot Pineapple cake, topped with whip cream or plain vanilla ice cream (or both?). But to make things more festive, I’d serve champagne with the cake, accompanied by Yankee/Southern hospitality with a healthy dose of appreciation.

What is a book that you wish you could say that you had written and why?

By the way, if I’d written this book, I’d be a Pulitzer Prize winner! Beyond the poetic descriptions of Highway 66, The Grapes of Wrath captured the fears, hardships and exploitations of the Great Depression. It also showcased the greatness of the human condition, revealing a wellspring of strength coupled with conviction and hope, even in almost hopeless situations. Despite its historic significance, its message is timeless. This novel could just as easily be about today’s “Okies,” the homeless and the unemployed in every state, as they search for jobs, dignity and a future.

What is the greatest piece of advice (for writing and/or just living) that you have heard?

“Be who you are and say what you feel, because those who mind don’t matter, and those who matter don’t mind.” ~ Dr. Seuss

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About April Pohren

  • sarah

    I would LOOOOOOOVE to actually be married to a csi star (actor)! What a dream come true that would be. I think about actually wanting to be married to a csi star not naming names everyday! Im absolutely in love with this piticular actor! O im imagining alright. Hmm…