It’s hard to properly express my absolute joy in sinking into a Shinobi mystery, except to say, the 16th Century Ms Spann has created is a welcome reprieve and respite each time I soak inside one of her installments on this expansive Historical Cosy Mystery series! I have a strong preference for Cosies as a whole, but a lovely new *niche!* of joy for me is the Cosy Historicals, of which I’ve been happily championing and blogging about for nearly two years! (i.e. the life of JLAS!)
The incredible breadth of research the authors knit into their stories of suspense and the realistic clarity of their eras in time is what compells me forward into each new story that happily alights in my hands to read! When it comes to the Shinobi mysteries, Spann has such a dedicated eye for continuity and a convincing voice for historical narrative set in an era so far removed from our own, she convinces you dearly that your in the 16th Century! This is beneficial on many levels but for me personally, I love the time travelling component that walks hand-in-hand with meeting up with two of my now beloved characters of suspense: Father Mateo and Hiro!
They have their own unique way of relating to each other, full of respect and honour, but with a uniqueness all of their own. The setting is vividly represented and the cultural heritage as well as the traditions of the Japanese are eloquently described lending an internal lens on a country many of us might not have the pleasure of visiting otherwise. I appreciate finding the new little bits and bobbles Spann knits inside her Shinobi mysteries; new secondary characters, new locales, new little insights into her lead characters, and of course, — the innate level of suspense where a mystery (always quite murderous) greets you, and a task to sleuth wraps your mind and heart around this evolving series!
For the HFVBTs spotlight, I wanted to step through the series, and combine my curiosities thus far along into a lively conversation that spans the first three novels, as we all sit on pins awaiting book No.4 Mask of the Fallen in 2016! This is an author and series I immediately get giddy about reading, as it should be when you find a writer who curates a living story of characters who breathe as real as their composites in our living world!
Here is our conversation as it unfolds and notice the little revelations from the writer which might surprise you along the way!
On my connection to Susan Spann:
I started visiting the chats hosted by @LitChat in the latter months of 2013, as it was around the time of the conference at The Betsy in which I started to cross paths with regular chatters, amongst whom were Natalia Sylvester (début novelist of “Chasing the Sun”) and Susan Spann. I am unsure which month I first started to notice Ms. Spann as a friendly presence who always reminded me of myself — someone who provided cheerful commentary, engaging questions for each visiting guest author, and a wicked knowledge base on a variety of topics. Generally speaking, I always click-over to read a person’s Twitter profile, but whilst engaged in those #LitChat(s) I felt like it was this magical rendezvous for the bookish and those who are attuned to bookish culture.
In this way, it wasn’t until I learnt of Blade of the Samurai was going on tour through TLC Book Tours that I had decided to discover a bit more about her! In so doing, I learnt who she was ‘behind the curtain’ so to speak! I always considered her one of my ‘friends in the twitterverse’ but I never disclosed this to her until I was on the (Blade of the Samurai) blog tour in September 2014! Such serendipity as the tour has brought us a bit closer and I am grateful that Twitter is a social-positive method of reaching past our distances in geography to connect to people who share a passion for the written word. We have continued to remain in touch although we do not get to ‘meet-up’ on Twitter as often as we once did due to our schedules.
I am disclosing this, to assure you that I can formulate an honest opinion, even though I have interacted with Spann through our respective love & passion of reading inside the twitterverse whilst attending #LitChat or in private convos. I treat each book as a ‘new experience’, whether I personally know the author OR whether I am reading a book by them for the first time.
Susan Spann is a transactional publishing attorney and the author of the Shinobi Mysteries, featuring ninja detective Hiro Hattori and his Portuguese Jesuit sidekick, Father Mateo. Her début novel, CLAWS OF THE CAT (Minotaur Books, 2013), was named a Library Journal Mystery Debut of the Month. Susan has a degree in Asian Studies from Tufts University, where she studied Chinese and Japanese language, history, and culture. Her hobbies include cooking, traditional archery, martial arts, and horseback riding. She lives in northern California with her husband, son, two cats, and an aquarium full of seahorses.
You have such a clever way of etching into your stories lovely hidden clues that reveal a bit about the direction of the Shinobi mysteries – I was curious was this innate and organic evolving through how the stories inked themselves together or was it something you hoped to add to help readerly sleuths get caught up in the journey with a bit of insider edge?
Spann responds: The best answer is “a little of both.” I have a larger series outline which helps me track the larger arc. Since I know where the series is going, a lot of the foreshadowing drops in naturally during the writing process. That said, I also do insert some deliberate clues in the editing process. (Also: thank you for the lovely compliment about the books.) Read More