Thursday, 20 October 2016

A Level Best Story Collection: Giving Voice by Connie Hambley

Connie Johnson Hambley embraces the changes in the publishing world by being both traditionally and independently published.

Hambley grew up on a small dairy farm just north of New York City. When she was a child, an arsonist burned her family’s barn to the ground. Memories from that experience grew the stories that have become her independently published thrillers. Working with survivors of human trafficking sparked the idea for Giving Voice, a short story published by Level Best Books in the award-winning Best New England Crime Stories anthology.

Proving that truth can be stranger than fiction, her experience at a major bank in Boston introduced her to the clever schemes people dream up to launder money.
Hambley uses every bit of personal experience to create a story that is as believable as it is suspenseful. Leveraging her law and investment background in ways unique, creative, but not altogether logical, she has enjoyed robust professional pursuits that include writing for Bloomberg BusinessWeek, Massachusetts High Tech, and Nature Biotechnology.

Hambley writes about strong women from their perspective in situations that demand the most from them. No special powers, no gadgets, no super human abilities – just a woman caught up or embroiled in something that she has to get out of, hopefully alive. The Charity is the first in The Jessica Trilogy. The second in the series, The Troubles, will be followed by The Wake in 2017. Look for updates and information on and follow her on Twitter at @conniehambley.

Hambley blogs and speaks on the changing publishing world and how to market effectively. Find her Author-to-Reader Marketing (#A2R) posts on her Out of the Fog Blog,

Connect with the Author

About the Book

The Level Best website describes this collection the best:

"Level Best Books publishes an annual anthology of Crime Stories set in New England each November. Well-regarded by readers and reviewers, stories published by Level Best have won the Agatha, Anthony, Macavity, Derringer and Robert L. Fish (Award for Best First Short Story presented at the Edgar® banquet) Awards and have been recognized as “Distinguished Mystery Stories,” by the editors of the Best American Mystery Stories series. Level Best also publishes the winning story from the Al Blanchard contest every year.

Founded by Skye Alexander, Kate Flora and Susan Oleksiw, Level Best’s goal is to publish the highest quality short fiction produced by crime writers either from or with stories set in the six New England states. From the beginning, the anthology has contained tales from established as well as previously unpublished authors."

Connie's short story, Giving Voice, will be featured in this anthology, due to be released in November 2016!

In the meantime, check out Connie's books, The Troubles and The Charity on Amazon!

Keep reading for an interview with the author:

Why did you decide to be a writer?

Becoming a writer wasn't a decision. As a student and in various jobs, I was the team member who converted concepts, ideas, and solutions into the written product of proposals, briefs, and marketing collateral. My brain sees in words.

Do you have a "day job"? If so, what do you do?

I'm a lot of "formers." Former lawyer, former banker, former COO, former model, former windsurfing instructor ... You get the idea. Now I use all that experience to infuse my stories with realism.

What genres do you write?

Suspense. My sweetspot is writing high-concept thrillers revolving around real-life events.

What inspires you to write?

If I don't, I would explode. So I guess you could say I'm inspired by pure self-preservation.

What authors/books have most influenced you?

I gravitate toward Scandinavian thrillers. Stieg Larsson's and Jo Nesbo's books weave complex tales that respect a reader's intelligence. Certainly I love their high octane action, but I'm also pulled toward certain works by John Grisham. I love the crux a legal issue can give to a plot. Lastly, I love Colleen McCullough's "The Thorn Birds." She told a heart-wrenching, multi-generational tale of love and loss and how the past shapes a future. Larsson's and Nesbo's thrillers lack the emotion of McCullough's work. By doing so, they alienate a swath of readers that want emotion along with action. These authors' influences can be seen in my work because I deliver on creating three dimensional characters with pasts and emotions in settings and situations that zing with realism. A new term is popping into use, it's "Literary Thriller." I fit nicely into that category, but until it's firmly in use, I'll use "Suspense" because it allows for more character and thematic development than "Thriller."

If you could choose an author to be your mentor, who would it be?

Have you read Stephen King's memior, "On Writing"? I felt like he was talking directly to me. So, yeah, go for the master. I'd chose King.

When did you first consider yourself an author?

I still don't. Calling oneself an "author" connotes a ponce hoisting a long cigarette holder in one hand while tossing a feather boa over her shoulder with the other. I'm a writer who crafts kick-ass stories, but I have to shorten it to "author" because of character constraints on Twitter and business cards.

What are your goals as an author? Where do you see yourself in five years?

I am going to work as hard as I can for as many years as it takes to be an overnight success.

What is the biggest obstacle you face as an author and what do you do to overcome it?

The biggest obstacle was the label "independent publisher" or "independently published author." A handful of readers push back against the indie label, but the entire book selling industry is rigged in favor of traditionally published authors. Everything from distribution channels to rankings on Amazon are geared to favor traditionally published authors from established house. I'm not whining. I'm good at marketing and making things happen, so for me, this obstacle is a challenge that keeps my life interesting. Now, I'm a "Hybrid" author, meaning I'm both traditionally and independently published. "Giving Voice" is a short story published by a traditional house in an award-winning anthology. I can already feel some other barriers softening.

Does your family support you in your writing, or are you on your own?

My family totally rocks in the support department. Special kudos goes to my husband. His unofficial title is "Book and Author Sherpa." We make an awesome team and I couldn't do what I do without him.

What is the best compliment you've ever received as an author?

At signings, I always place my business card with my email address into each book and encourage readers to contact me. I received an email from a reader with a 2 AM time stamp lamenting that she was still awake because she could not put my book, "The Charity," down. "As soon as I think I'll finish one section and put it down for the night, something happens and I have to find out what happens next! Dang you!" For me, that's the biggest compliment because my job as a kick-ass thriller writer is to give my readers a RIDE. So, box checked.

If you were stranded on a deserted island, and you could only have five books with you, what would they be?

Homer's Odyssey, Shakespeare's anything, Jane Austen's "Pride and Prejudice," and then lots of paper, pens, a computer if possible to write my own.

What made you decide to self-publish?

A small traditional press wanted to publish my first book. One look at the terms, percentages given away, volume estimates for sales, and the short length of time the house would have dedicated to promoting my work was enough to have me turn tale and swim for the indie shores. My short story, "Giving Voice," is published by a well-regarded traditional publisher, Level Best Books. So, I'm officially a hybrid author having both indie and traditional credits.

Do you write about real life experiences, or does everything come from your imagination?

Real life with a skewed imagination makes for great books...hopefully. My family was the target of an arsonist when I was a girl. You want to kickstart wheels turning? Try that one on for size.

What was the hardest part about writing your latest book?

Writing a sequel is like playing a game of bumper pool. You know you want to sink that eight ball into the corner pocket, but you can't shoot it in a straight line because there are all of these "hard stops" in your way. In a sequel, the hard stops are time and plot lines, character motivations, and established history. It's hard work.

Do you have anything specific you'd like to say to your readers?

To my readers: I love you and thank you for your support and encouragement!

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