Monday, December 6, 2010
Interview with Mary Montague Sykes
Mary Montague Sikes is an author of mystery, suspense, and romance. Her newest work, Night Watch is available in trade paperback from Oak Tree Books and also in Kindle version from Amazon.
What is the name of your latest book? Night Watch And how did you come up with the title?
One element of the story concerns an art theft of Old World master paintings. I thought about Rembrandt and the painting, Night Watch. Since Lily, the heroine of my novel, spends a lot of time spying from her condo on the strange late night happenings along the waterfront, she has her own “night watch” going on. Between the art work and the spy work, the title seemed perfect.
What is Night Watch about?
My story begins with the murder of an NPR reporter, and the rest of the book deals with events connected to the murder. The resort in Trinidad where Lily goes on vacation is an ocean away from the English Channel where the murder took place. At first she doesn’t comprehend the ties the locations have with gun-running and stolen artwork, and she doesn’t know about the murder—only that people keep confusing her for someone else. Trying to become a photojournalist, Lily doesn’t have time to understand her own connection to the past as she deals with fear and danger in caves, a nature preserve, a car chase, and kidnapping in a speed boat heading to the Grenadines. When she “recognizes” a dragonfly necklace she doesn’t understand what the meaning is. Can it be symbolic or is it because she is a “walk-in” who relates to reincarnation? When Kyle Warren comes into her life, she is torn between lack of trust and a deep-seated feeling that she somehow knows him and can indeed trust him.
What books have most influenced your life most?
A few years ago, I was very much influenced by the writings of LaVylre Spencer. I especially enjoyed her book, Morning Glory. I also have liked reading books by Margaret Chittenden. More recently, I’ve found books by Mary Alice Monroe that I’ve enjoyed. Monroe likes to base her stories around an important issue in nature such as the plight of turtles along populated beaches. Lights along the beaches can lead to the deaths of hatching turtles. One of Monroe’s books, Swimming Lessons, is about those turtles.
If you had to choose, which writer would you consider a mentor?
The late Jane Deringer was my real writing mentor. She started a wonderful writing program at Rappahannock Community College, near my home in Virginia, and I took as many of her classes as I could. She developed quite a writing community in our area of Virginia. She died more than 10 years ago, and I still miss her.
What are your current projects?
I’m working on a book, Jungle Beat, set in Antigua and in Costa Rica. I also have a project set in the Bahamas. Both are for the Passenger to Paradise series that Oak Tree created for my books with exotic settings.
Is there anything you find particularly challenging in your writing?
Finding the time to write is becoming more difficult especially now that I’ve discovered the instant gratification of blogging! I also enjoy playing tennis which cuts into my writing time. However, the tennis is part of the health activities that I consider essential.
Do you have any advice for other writers?
If you want to be a writer, never give up. Keep working at it and improve your skills until something wonderful happens when you least expect it.
Author at a rugged seascape similar to Trinidad
Port of Spain, Trinidad
November 5, 1986
When Lily Henri turned toward the voice, she saw a tall blond man dash out of
the crowd toward her. His hurried footsteps clicked on the gray floor tiles and
resounded sharply above the clamor of the airport terminal.
Her name was not Katherine. She looked around for someone else standing
near her but saw no one. Confused, Lily shrank back from the approaching stranger, allowing her shoulder bag to fall on the luggage stacked next to her.
His tawny gold eyes narrowing, the man paused a few feet away and stared at
her. Lily watched his face pale and his eyes fade to a tarnished color. The man looked as if he were seeing a ghost and she was it.
An involuntary shiver slithered down her spine.
“No. My name’s not Katherine.”
The stranger’s serious eyes and tense voice made her uneasy. She wanted to edge
away, but she could not move far without abandoning her luggage.
As if hypnotized, the man continued to stare.
“I’m sorry, but you’ve mistaken me for someone else,” Lily said in a level voice.
She raked back unruly strands of pale blonde hair that clung to her cheeks.
The man frowned, but he did not turn away. Instead, he continued to study her
with piercing eyes that left her bewildered and confused. He looked confused as
“No. No. I see that you’re not Katherine,” he said after what seemed a very long
time. He shook his head.
Lily detected an English accent to his subdued voice. And it held an edge of
sadness that tempted Lily to reach out and touch him. Of course, she did not, but it took considerable discipline to keep the impulse in check.
With sudden resolve, the man straightened his broad shoulders, and a pleasant
smile replaced the confusion on his handsome face. “My apologies. I didn’t intend to stare. It’s just… It’s that you look so very much like her…
The handsome stranger had captured her curiosity. Lily wanted to know more.
Before the man could reply, a blue-eyed beauty, long, flaming red hair cascading
over her shoulders, stepped from the crowd and caught hold of his arm.
“It’s time to board the flight.”
Her voice was low and sultry. A green silk dress clung to the woman’s ample breasts and curved tight to her hips. She tilted her face and smiled up at the man. Without looking at Lily, she guided him toward the departure gates.
“Sorry to have bothered you,” the man said, his voice now more deep and
confident than before. He pulled away from the woman, came back, and pressed a
white business card into Lily’s hand.
“If you should need me, do call,” he said. “Sometimes people in Trinidad need
help,” he added, then rushed away into the crowd with the tall redhead on his arm.
The space where the man had stood turned cold and empty. Lily shivered as she
read the name, “Kyle Warren,” in bold black letters. A local number was listed at the bottom, a telephone number, no other information.
She stared after Kyle Warren and the beautiful woman, watching them disappear
into the crowd of people headed toward the gate. Now Lily felt much lonelier than before. To add to her confusion, she sensed someone she knew had left her. But, of course, that could not be.
It was late, and she was tired. Yet something about the tall blond man was familiar…And Lily didn’t quite like the way that redhead latched onto his arm.
She shrugged. She couldn’t be jealous of this stranger’s friend. What was she
The trip—a working vacation—to Trinidad was a big step for Lily. She’d chosen
a foreign destination, completely unfamiliar to her, in hopes the sights and sounds of a new place would somehow enhance her photojournalism career.
The brochure advertising the remote Trinidad resort intrigued her. She needed
to get away from the family and friends she didn’t seem to know anymore.
Things were strange for her since the accident…
©2010 Mary Montague Sikes
Link to purchase from Oak Tree:
Kindle purchase from Amazon: