Thursday, September 9, 2010

Local author on the fast track with her new mystery

The latest book by Finger Lakes author Lisa Bork in her “Broken Vows” series.

Lisa Bork, 2009 Agatha Award finalist for Best First Novel

     A sports car boutique owner and her deputy sheriff husband get tangled up in roadblocks adopting a baby. “For Richer, For Danger,” a novel by Lisa Bork, who is a resident of Western New York, accelerates when the birth mother becomes the prime suspect in a murder.
     This mystery follows Bork’s critically acclaimed first novel in the series, “For Better, For Murder,” which was a finalist for the 2009 Agatha Award for Best First Novel. Both are part of “The Broken Vows” series; a third book is coming out next year.
    In interviewing Bork- in where else but a location the Finger Lakes region to complement the setting for her novel series- she talked about why she chose mystery writing.
     “It’s fun. There are certain expectations people have from a mystery. I read a lot of mystery authors myself, such as Janet Evanovich and Harlan Coben. I get my support on line from the Guppies, a sub-group of the Sisters in Crime. We cheerlead each other and offer critiques.”
     The novel is set in the fictional town of Wachobe. Try as readers might, they will never pinpoint the exact place on a map. Wachobe has all the charm of any tourist town in the Finger Lakes with its specialty shops, summer traffic jams, and sleepy winters, too. Small towns have a flavorful atmosphere with the myriad of residents whose lives get intertwined, and not necessarily on purpose either. References in the book are made to actual places such as Hammondsport and Canandaigua, but that only gives the novel a realistic sense of place.
      Jolene Parker and her husband Ray are working hard to glue their marriage back together, and with the fostering of baby Noelle, it gives them both something to hang on to for bonding as a family. Bork does well in keeping up a strong undercurrent of tension between the two throughout the book because old wounds have not healed completely. Anyone in a relationship understands Jolene and Ray’s gaps in communication lead to suspicion blown way out of proportion. Lying that starts out as little white fibs between several well-meaning characters muddies the waters even further.
     “My friends say I am like Jolene in a way,” said Bork.
     The characters in the story jump off the page as they should when in the hands of a good writer, and Bork certainly knows how to accomplish this with just the right amount of laughter and tears in all the appropriate places. Each character is flawed, and makes some irrational decisions. It’s not hard to picture in your mind the troubled younger sister, Ericka, and Jolene’s best friend, Cory, who have their own difficulties that will probably surface in a future book.
         “I am planning probably a total books in five in the series. After that things can become too much the same, and that gets boring,” states Bork.
     With many characters to juggle Bork intentionally creates suspicion in the reader’s mind, and it makes it difficult to figure out the murderer- if one ever does- until the very end of the book. Certainly it is not a book for those who love predictability and perfectly wrapped up endings, because you are in for a tumultuous fast ride all over Western New York from one end to the other. On the other hand, the book sparkles with moments for the reader to react to in his own way since not everything is what it seems.
     Many contemporary books by women tend to be a combination of romance and mystery, with a heavier lean on the romantic side, but in the case of Bork’s writing, her books can be categorized as solid mysteries, and there is little fluff between the covers.
     As for her own personal writing habits, Bork said that she does not write a specific number of words or pages a day, but writes when she has an idea. A professional woman until she decided to become a stay at home mom, she started writing as a mental challenge.
     “Keep writing as long as you enjoy doing it. Realize that not every good book gets published,” states Bork as her advice to young writers.
     For someone who is as soft spoken and has such a quiet demeanor about her, Bork certainly shows off her creative capabilities in print. She conjures up a plot that is not so squeaky clean. Her readers are introduced to characters with messy lives and face the psychological upheavals of running on near empty. The book is believable with all its u-turns and dead ends, which normally happen on life’s road. There is enough fuel for many discussions between readers in “For Richer, For Danger.”
     For more information about Lisa Bork go to her website at The “Broken Vows” series can be purchased at bookstores and on-line.