This week, I am interviewing my long-time friend, Canadian author, Eden Baylee. Back in 2012, Eden and I were part of the writers’ blog, Black Ink, White Paper. It was a collaborative effort of a dozen or so authors wherein we shared all the experiences that influenced our work—not just the literary stuff, but our day trips, food, family life and all the other parts of our everyday existence. I always enjoyed our chemistry, so when I learned Eden was releasing her first full-length novel, I knew I had to bring her on board.
Stranger at Sunset is her first mystery novel, on the heels of several books of erotic anthologies and short stories. She writes in multiple genres.
An introvert by nature and an extrovert by design, Eden is most comfortable at home with her laptop, surrounded by books. She is an online Scrabble junkie and a social media enthusiast, but she really needs to get out more often!
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Welcome, Eden! I am so excited to have you join us. I thoroughly expect Stranger at Sunset to carry the flavor of your previous works. Can you summarize it for us?
A vacation can be a killer.
Dr. Kate Hampton, a respected psychiatrist, gathers with a group of strangers at her favorite travel spot, Sunset Villa in Jamaica. Included in the mix are friends of the owners, a businessman with dubious credentials, and a couple who won the trip from a TV game show.
It is January 2013, following the aftermath of Hurricane Sandy. The luxury resort is struggling, not from the storm, but due to a scathing review from caustic travel writer, Matthew Kane. The owners have invited him back with hopes he will pen a more favorable review to restore their reputation.
Even though she is haunted by her own demons, Kate feels compelled to help. She sets out to discover the motivation behind Kane’s vitriol. Used to getting what he wants, has the reviewer met his match in Kate? Or has she met hers?
Stranger at Sunset is a slow-burning mystery/thriller as seen through the eyes of different narrators, each with their own murky sense of justice. As Kate’s own psychological past begins to unravel, a mysterious stranger at Sunset may be the only one who can save her.
I can already tell this book is a hot one. Aside from the plot, is there a story behind your book?
The book is all about the interaction of strangers, and the word ‘stranger’ has multiple meanings throughout the story. As adults, we are not usually forced into situations with people we do not like, so I wanted to explore a tense atmosphere with strangers, and to do it in a Jamaican resort which, by all accounts, should be a place of paradise and happiness.
The desires and motivations of the strangers in the story are not always clear, not even to themselves. In many ways, it reflects how I feel about people in real life. Sometimes we are strangers to ourselves.
We certainly are. The one thing I do know about you is that you’re never idle. What are you working on now?
I’m working on A Fragile Truce, which is the book that follows Stranger at Sunset and features the same protagonist, Dr. Kate Hampton. There is an excerpt of it at the end of my book.
That’s an indication of how far along you are. I must say, mysteries like these are departures from your previous work. Why have you chosen this particular genre?
I enjoy reading the mystery and thriller genres. There are many nuances contained in them and different ways to tell a story. I’m not a ‘blood and guts’ storyteller, so I don’t have the talent to write police procedurals or crime novels. Where my interest lies is in the motivations of people. That is why I classify my book as a psychological mystery/thriller, because much of it is based on intellectual mind games.
If someone were to ask why they should buy your book, what would you tell them?
The quick and dirty answer is: Buying my book is for entertainment and escapism. Though I was inspired to write it based on my own experiences and views of the world, there are no great life lessons in it.
I’ve read The Austrian and the Asian and enjoyed it very much. That says a lot about your skill as a writer, since not many men read or enjoy erotica. Will you touch on what else you have written?
Prior to Stranger at Sunset, I’ve written short stories, novellas, and flash fiction. They have all been in the erotica genre for the most part. This novel marks my venture into a new genre. It was a huge challenge for me, but I’m proud I pushed myself to do it.
As you should be. Stepping outside one’s comfort zone is a challenge for many of us. I should also tell our visitors how well-developed and layered your writing is. What life experiences or careers inspire or enrich your writing?
I was a banker for twenty years before I took up writing full time. Believe it or not, there are many stories from that period of my life. I just haven’t put them together in my head to create a book.
Music, people, and travel are the biggest inspirations for me.
As a writer, I find even the most mundane of life’s experiences fascinating, as often I need to incorporate those moments into my writing, and to do it in a way that interests the reader. Life, after all, is not always a fast-moving thriller. My book moves at a smoldering pace because I want to pull the reader in slowly.
Because I love the mystery and serendipity of life, I wanted to highlight both these elements in my fiction.
That’s smoldering, as in slow burn, as opposed to blistering. Let’s take a minute to look at your “other life”—your life outside writing. Where would you live, if you could live anywhere?
Thailand—for many reasons, but mainly because of the heat, the beaches, and the people. One of the most personal stories I’ve ever written, called “The Lottery” takes place in Thailand. If you read that book, you will understand why I have a special place in my heart for the Thai people, especially the women.
What is your dream job?
I’m doing it now. To be able to use my imagination to create stories that connect me to others … it’s remarkable.
Hah! That’s every author’s dream. If I spoke to your closest friend about you, what would he or she tell me?
Eden is whacky, creative, and directionally challenged. I hate when she gives me directions in a car because I’ll end up making three or four U-turns in one trip. The only reason we are still friends is because I now have GPS.
Do you have a favorite quote?
“Life is a series of short stories pretending to be a novel” – Anonymous.
What makes you laugh?
Fart jokes. I don’t care how old you are, fart jokes are damn funny.
Now that is something I never would have guessed. OK. Lightning Round.
In one or two words, what is your defining trait?
Curious and tolerant, or perhaps curiously tolerant. (And I can’t count. Sorry, Ray! )
Hard copy or ebook?
Both, depends on my mood.
Vice in fiction, virtue in real life.
50 Shades of … NOT! Too many to name, I’m afraid.
Whew! I’m glad you didn’t go there. Favorite movie:
Anything with Anthony Hopkins in it.
Do you have a parting thought you would like to leave us with?
First and foremost, thank you Ray, for your time and energy. It’s lovely of you to interview me given your own busy schedule. I truly appreciate the exposure and look forward to meeting one day for a scotch. You’re buying of course, right?
Uh… er… Would you care to share a little of your book, Eden? (Notice how deftly I changed the subject.)
The body plummeted two and a half stories into the sea. It bobbed between crests before foamy waves swept in and yanked it under the surface. The tide rushed out dragging its new possession deep into the ocean’s dark belly. Swells curled and collapsed against the shore. The evening breeze whistled an eerie tune.
Despite how tightly his fingers gripped the large barrels, the binoculars trembled in the man’s hands. He now wished he had bought the more powerful Porro-prism model. This less expensive design darkened the image, especially against a pale orange sky reflecting the chopped glass of the water. While adjusting the diopter ring behind his right eyepiece, he bit down on his lower lip.
A silhouette met his lens, haloed by the glow of the setting sun. With his breath thickening the atmosphere, he pressed the eyepiece harder against his face to stop from shaking.
The woman stood naked with her hair pinned up, loose strands trailing down the nape of her slender neck. Her palms rested on the metal railing of the balcony. As she stared out at the churning sea, he zoomed in on her face, then moved his binoculars downward to her breasts, lingering there longer than he should have. Slowly, he lowered his gaze to her flat stomach. Firm thighs extended off the arc of round buttocks. A dancer’s body—willowy and muscular, but not too muscular, she was beauty and grace, and yet, what she just did …
A hint of dark pubic hair blurred past his lens. While he re-calibrated the magnification, she drifted out of focus. When he brought her back in view, her contemplative mood had changed. She moved a chair to the corner of the terrace. Gathering up a pile of bed sheets, she crossed the threshold into the room and scurried out of view.
He dared not avert his eyes. The light was fading fast, and night would soon fall upon the villa like a magician’s cape. With his elbows pressed to his sides, he loosened his grip on the binoculars and tried to flex his aching fingers.
She had to come back, right?
The doors leading to the patio were still wide open. Secluded in his dark corner of the island, he spied the room as if ogling a dollhouse with its front wall sheared off, scaled down to about the same size too.
The naked woman strolled back into his field of vision as a cramp sneaked up on him. A painful twitch stabbed his wrist, reminded him of old wounds. He dropped the binoculars secured by a strap around his neck to shake out both his hands. By the time he brought the lens to his face again, she had disappeared, no … wait, she popped up from behind the bed carrying two pillows. With an unhurried pace, she stepped out on the balcony and propped the cushions on the chair, even fluffed them before re-entering the suite. She closed the wooden French doors behind her.
The light in her room replaced the sun’s blush, a poor substitute given a set of floor-to-ceiling jalousies bracketed his view. He waited to see what she would do next. His breathing deafened his ears as if he were wheezing through a mask; adrenaline pumped in his veins. She moved in front of the window facing him. With hands on her hips, legs spread apart, she stood full frontal and stared straight at him. He shrank back and jostled her image.
Could she see him?
If you would like to read more from Stranger at Sunset, or learn more about the author, please check out the following links: