Guest Blogger: Julie Lomoe

Guest Blogger Julie Lomoe

Today it is my pleasure to welcome Julie Lomoe, mystery author and poet.

Julie Lomoe brings a wealth of mental health and home health care experience to her mystery novels. Her work as an art therapist at a psychiatric hospital inspired her to turn to fiction as a creative outlet. She later founded and ran ElderSource, Inc., a Licensed Home Care Services Agency in upstate New York. A vocal advocate for the rights of mentally ill and elderly consumers, Julie is a member of the National Alliance for the Mentally Ill and of the Mental Health Players, an improvisatory theatre troup.

Julie graduated Phi Beta Kappa from Barnard College, then received an MFA from Columbia University. A pioneering resident of SoHo, she exhibited her paintings and prints at the Museum of Modern Art, the Brooklyn Museum, the 1969 Woodstock Festival of Music and Art, and in many Manhattan galleries. She received an MA in Art Therapy from New York University before moving to upstate New York to pursue a career in mental health.

Julie enjoys reading her poetry at open mics in New York’s Capital Region, and has been featured poet at many venues including the legendary Caffe Lena in Saratoga Springs. She lives in Rensselaer County with her husband Robb Smith and her two cats, Beep and Lunesta.

Welcome, Julie!

Why do we love those sexy villains?

Detective John McBain was on the verge of shooting Mitch Laurence in the head today, but Brody Lovett burst in, shouting “John! Stop! You don’t want to do this!”

Just another afternoon on One Life to Live, the ABC soap opera that’s been a guilty pleasure of mine for several years. Actually, it wasn’t a typical afternoon, because John came close to crossing over to the dark side, where he belongs. All these years on OLTL, he’s been a basically good guy, moody and troubled but always under control. Today, though, they showed him in close-up profile, and it took me back to the days he was a vampire on the defunct soap opera Port Charles.

Detective McBain is played by the actor Michael Easton, and strangely enough, the killer Gabriel in my novel Eldercide looks a great deal like him. He’s the broody Heathcliffe type, with longish black hair and piercing blue eyes. SPOILER ALERT: if you plan to read Eldercide, and I hope you do, I may be giving away Gabriel’s identity. Eldercide is a novel of suspense written from multiple points of view, and although we meet Gabriel at the very beginning, it’s not until the climax that we learn his true identity. In the words of the teaser on the back cover:

When quality of life declines with age and illness, who decides if you’re better off dead? Nursing supervisor Claire Lindstrom suspects a killer is making the final judgment call for the clients of Compassionate Care.

A woman with Alzheimer’s disease dies unexpectedly in the night. Another is found dead beside a stream. Claire sees the beginnings of a sinister pattern, but Paula Rhodes, her temperamental boss, doesn’t want her raising questions. The survival of the home health care agency in upstate New York depends on its reputation for quality care, and a rash of mysterious deaths could kill the business.

Claire antagonizes the county coroner and becomes the prime suspect in the eyes of the police. All the while, from his vantage point near her cottage on Kooperskill Lake, a killer called Gabriel is watching, channeling his obsession with Claire into passionate paintings. Under another name, he’s a man she already knows – but which one? And is he part of a far larger scheme of eldercide?

Several men in Claire’s life are highly suspect. There’s Stephen McClellan, the sexy young driver and jack-of-all-trades for Compassionate Care who has a powerful effect on Claire:

Her breath was coming faster, and it wasn’t just anger fueling her upset. Since Stephen McClellan had charmed his way into a job six months ago, he’d made himself indispensable, meeting the aides at the Amtrak station in Rensselaer, ferrying them to the clients’ homes, running errands, doing minor carpentry and odd jobs for the clients and their families. The elderly ladies loved him, and why not? He had movie-star looks: tall, well muscled, wavy blond hair, chiseled features, like a young Matthew McConaughey. And a movie star was exactly what he intended to be, he’d told her on more than one occasion. Preferably before he hit thirty.

Okay, so you know Stephen’s not the killer – his hair’s the wrong color. But he has all the right stuff – sexy, rakish, full of blarney and deception. Claire keeps fending off his advances, but perhaps in the next book she’ll give in. Then there’s the lawyer, the burned out male nurse with the prison tattoos – and the one man she never suspects.

What is it we love about villains? And what makes a good one? I could ramble on for pages, and probably so could you. But for me, there has to be something mysterious, something of the Jungian shadow side. Internal conflict is good, too. My arch-villain Gabriel has a compassionate side. He’s not a sadist. He kills his victims gently, wants to end their suffering. When he thinks an assignment may involve killing a dog, he’s ready to quit outright.

Micahel Easton as Caleb

As for Detective John McBain, he’ll probably stay a good guy. But I much preferred Michael Easton as the moody vampire Caleb Morley on Port Charles. He also played Caleb’s twin brother Michael, a priest, but Caleb was far more alluring. The current crop of vampire superstars don’t even come close – for my taste, they’re much too young.

I hope you’ll visit my blog, Julie Lomoe’s Musings Mysterioso, at http://julielomoe.wordpress.com. There you can read the first chapter of Eldercide, where Gabriel spies on Claire as she lounges near the lake, and decides to take up painting again so as to do her justice.

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