Thursday, September 21, 2017

The Bell Tolls Interview

I'm pleased to welcome R. Franklin James to the blog today. R. Franklin writes the Hollis Morgan Mystery series. THE BELL TOLLS, the fifth book in the series, was released earlier this summer.

Kathy: Hollis Morgan knows a liar when she sees one. Are you adept at spotting a lie?

RFJ: I’m getting better at it as I get older, but no, not particularly adept. The obvious liar body language (sweating, rapid eye blinking, no eye contact) I can nail, but the really good liars, I’d have to leave to Hollis.

Kathy: Work is Hollis' salvation. Is work a fundamental part of your existence, or do you work more so that you are able to do other things you enjoy?

RFJ: I am a recovering workaholic. I enjoy “projects” and the planning, the more complex the better. I was born to coordinate. Right now I write full-time, so it’s the best of both worlds: writing is my work that I enjoy all the time.

Kathy: In THE BELL TOLLS Hollis is to return damaging documents to people being blackmailed only to discover the blackmailer was murdered. What makes blackmail such an intriguing crime?

RFJ: That’s a great question!

For me, blackmail says more about the blackmailer than the person who is trying to hide their past. An individual who would profit from another’s misery is beyond my comprehension—so I needed to write about it. Blackmail in many cases is a double-crime: the blackmailer and the person with something to hide. I can pursue two dramatic storylines at one time.

Kathy: What first drew you to mysteries?

RFJ: From my earliest years I’ve loved puzzles and books. Mysteries combine the best of both. I used to watch detective TV shows with the sole purpose of detecting who did it.

Kathy: Do you write in any other genres?

RFJ: I have dabbled in thrillers/suspense, but my heart belongs to the traditional mystery.

Kathy: Tell us about your series.

RFJ: Hollis Morgan has survived imprisonment, received a pardon and persevered to finally become a probate attorney. The six-book, Hollis Morgan Mystery Series, follows Hollis through her determination to overcome society’s judgment and her own struggle with self-forgiveness. The series’ story lines highlight her keen survival instincts as she tackles cases and life situations that test her grit and mettle.

Kathy: Do you have a favorite character? If so, who and why?

RFJ: It depends on the book in the series. In THE BELL TOLLS each character brings out another side of Hollis. I’m struggling with an answer to this question, it’s like picking out your favorite child—it depends on the day.

Kathy: Did you have a specific inspiration for your series?

RFJ: I discovered, after I had written the first book in the Hollis Morgan series (THE FALLEN ANGELS BOOK CLUB), that I was guided by people in real life who deserved—and didn’t deserve, second chances.

Kathy: What made you decide to publish your work?

RFJ: I’m a glutton for a challenge. Traditional publishing isn’t easy, but I wanted to go that route. I wanted to get my book into the hands of as many readers as possible. As an introvert, I was looking for a broad reaching distribution model.

Kathy: If you could have a dinner party and invite 4 authors, living or dead, in any genre, who would you invite?

RFJ: Louise Penny, Harlan Coben, Lee Child and Sue Grafton.

Kathy: What are you currently reading?

RFJ: GLASS HOUSES by Louise Penny

Kathy: Will you share any of your hobbies or interests with us?

RFJ: I’m a voracious reader—I read anything written well. It’s the story that captivates me. I also love needlepoint and gardening.

Kathy: Name 4 items you always have in your fridge or pantry.

RFJ: Kombucha, Shrimp, Spaghetti, Greek yogurt and jelly beans (I know that’s five items, but it’s candy).

Kathy: Do you have plans for future books either in your current series or a new series?

RFJ: Book six, THE IDENTITY THIEF, in the Hollis Morgan series will be released by Camel Press next June. Right now, I’m actually churning on two new series possibilities, both mysteries.

Kathy: What's your favorite thing about being an author?

RFJ: I love to write and I love being a member of the mystery writers’ community.


The Bell Tolls (A Hollis Morgan Mystery) by R. Franklin James

Traditional Mystery 5th in Series  
Camel Press (June 1, 2017) Paperback: 256 pages
Hollis Morgan has survived imprisonment, received a pardon and persevered to finally become a probate attorney. Tough as she is, her newest case will further test her mettle. She discovers her client, Matthias Bell, is a deceased blackmailer whose last wish was to return the damaging documents letting his victims off the hook. It falls to Hollis to give them the good news. But it becomes apparent that Bell was murdered, and the victims of “Bell’s tolls” are now suspects.
Hollis’ white-collar criminal past has left her with keen survival instincts. A gifted liar, she knows a liar when she sees one. A lot of people in this case are lying and one is a killer.
On top of that, she’s also representing a dying stripper, a wealthy widow whose estranged daughter spurns her attempts at reconciliation, but whose husband sees the potential inheritance as mending all wounds.
Clients aside, Hollis is defensive and wary. Her mother, who hasn’t spoken to her for years, needs a kidney, and Hollis is a match, but neither are ready to put away the past. With Hollis’ fiancé and emotional support off on an undercover mission for Homeland Security, she must count on her own survival instincts. She is swept along on an emotional roller coaster as her absent love and her family’s coldness take their own toll.
Work is her salvation. The specter of a killer keeps her focused. Hollis has always had to rely on her wits, but now she finds that others who don’t have her well-being in mind are relying on them as well.
Book 5 in the Hollis Morgan Mystery series, which began with The Fallen Angels Book Club.

About The Author

R. Franklin James grew up in the San Francisco Bay Area and graduated from the University of California at Berkeley. From there she cultivated a different type of writing—legislation and public policy. After serving as Deputy Mayor for the City of Los Angeles, under millionaire Richard Riordan, she went back to her first love—writing, and in 2013 her debut novel, THE FALLEN ANGELS BOOK CLUB was published by Camel Press. Her second book in The Hollis Morgan Mystery Series, STICKS & STONES, was followed by THE RETURN OF THE FALLEN ANGELS BOOK CLUB, and THE TRADE LIST. THE BELL TOLLS, book five was released in June 2017. R. Franklin James lives in Northern California with her husband.


Author Links:
Goodreads: Twitter: @RFJBooks  
Purchase Links Amazon B&N kobo  

Books in This Series:


  1. Kathy, you're a great interviewer! Book six in the Hollis Morgan Mystery Series will be released in June 2018.

    1. Thanks so much! Please know that you're always welcome at Cozy Up With Kathy!