Thursday, September 14, 2017

Murder in Rock & Roll Heaven by Robin Ray | Blog Tour with Excerpt, Guest Post, Giveaway

The Blurb

No one ever "re-dies" in Heaven; unfortunately, that’s exactly what happened to singer Amy Winehouse. Her death, an unprecedented event in Heaven's history, has thrown a once docile world into unfortunate chaos. Because of the new uneasy alliance between angels and citizens, a freshly-arrived detective in the rock & roll town has been tasked with investigating the prime suspects, the members of the 27 Club  Jimi Hendrix, Janis Joplin and Jim Morrison. To make matters worse, a powerful angel from one of the upper levels of Heaven will soon arrive to make her ten-year inspection, a task that fills the other angels with dread since she has the power to banish anyone of them to the underworld. So, with time running out, the PI and his newly acquired sidekick, both aided by rock legends such as Eddie Cochran, Mama Cass, Kurt Cobain, Karen Carpenter and others, must quickly uncover the mystery that threatens not only to close Heaven’s doors forever, but promises to send a ripple effect through the entire universe that can rip it apart.

Murder in Rock & Roll Heaven by Robin Ray
Genre: Mystery / Sci-Fi
Publication Date: November 24, 2016
Paperback: 287 pages
ISBN-10: 1520167296
ISBN-13: 978-1520167299
E-Book File Size: 1027 KB

The Excerpt

Plants of varying shapes and sizes sprouted everywhere, some just knee high, some as tall as mango trees. Rows of narrow pipes across the ceiling misted the foliage every minute. A few customers were sampling some of the edible flowers while others were reading manuals or informational tags about the unusual plants. Towards the back, the good PI spotted an employee who was busy pulling off the dead leaves from several botanical specimens. The clerk, he noticed, was very colorful with her psychedelic bamboo slippers, purplish pants, flowery blue and white tunic, rows of bangles on each wrist, several beaded chains around her neck, and a pink strip of cloth enmeshed in her long brown hair. As Gregory neared her, he could hear her humming along to the music playing over the virtual speakers high up in the corners of the center. 

“Excuse me,” he introduced himself, “I was told Janis Joplin works back here.”

The employee turned and glanced at him. “You found her, babe.”

“Hi, Janis,” the PI introduced himself. “I’m Gregory Angelicus. And…”

“Oh, Lord,” she moaned, flinging the twigs in her hand down. “Another angel. What’d I do now?”

“Oh, no,” he stated quickly, “I’m not an angel. I just wanted to ask you a few questions.”

“About what?” she asked, eyeing the intruder with suspicion through her circular yellow sunglasses.

Gregory looked around momentarily. “Is there some place we can talk?”

“Sure,” she answered, crossing her arms. “You’re standing in it.”

The Guest Post

I got the idea to write “Murder in Rock & Roll Heaven” about a year ago. Prior to this book, I’d already written and published a collection of short stories, a novel, two novellas and one book of non-fiction. Wanting to branch off from what I’d already written, I’d planned that my next book would be a collection of interviews I conducted with dead geniuses such as Einstein, Da Vinci, Turing, Tesla, Beethoven, Tchaikovsky, Mahavir, Benjamin Franklin, and many others. The focus of that book, however, wasn’t to delve deeply into their work — that’s already been done. My idea was to have to a leisurely chat with them about life, what made them tick, how others perceived them and whether that bothered them or not, and other topics. As I was researching Da Vinci, I happened to notice that an another author, also from Seattle, had already penned a book of interviews of the dead. Dang it. My book would’ve been fun, too! 

Here in Seattle there’s a mystery book store; all they sell are mysteries. I started thinking about writing a murder mystery that they would carry, and to make sure they were interested in the title, I figured I should make it about Seattle. Around that time, I’d also looked into getting a book published on Kindle through their Scout program. Since the book had to be a full length novel, this solidified the idea that my next book would have to be a full length mystery. 

Once I had the idea of writing a murder mystery, the question was, “Who died?” Since my idea of writing a book of interviews was still on my mind, I thought it’d be cool to combine both ideas — write a mystery book which involved a past genius. But who? Ruminating through different scenarios, I realized a book which involved characters from different generations and professions would be way too complicated to conceive, so I decided to focus on one genre, one which I have a special affinity for since I’m also a musician, rock & roll. 

When I narrowed the story line down to being about a murder in Rock & Roll Heaven, I needed a victim. To make the book interesting, I thought the victim would have to be someone popular, like Jimi Hendrix, Janis Joplin, Jim Morrison, or Kurt Cobain. The fact that all those legends were 27 when they died gave me another idea — frame the murder around the infamous “27 Club.” I told acquaintances I knew about my book idea and who the victim should be. After hearing what others had to say, I decided the victim would be Amy Winehouse. Why? In essence, hers would be a non-speaking part, and I thought it would’ve been fun to have the more legendary members of the 27 Club speak.

To get the language of the legends right, I looked at various videos of them being interviewed, their on-stage banter, biographies and interviews of people who knew them. Then, of course, I had to create the setting — Heaven. Would everyone be wearing white and sitting in clouds playing harps? I nixed that idea once I started reading about Heaven based on Jain cosmology. Realizing there are seven levels of Heaven, just as there are with Hell, I thought that new arrivals to Heaven should be in a world they’d understand and be familiar with to lessen their anxiety. How people dressed and what they ate, if they ate, was based on the Jain cosmological fact that getting to Heaven is a conscious choice, one which animals wouldn’t make. 

Okay, so no animal products in Heaven. That meant no plastics since they’re a product of fossil fuels which were created by the centuries-long compression of phytoplankton (microscopic plant life) and zooplankton (mostly microscopic animal life). Today, it’s difficult to conceive of a world without plastics or animal products. They’re everywhere — computers, cars, cellphones, food wrapping, clothing, furniture, household items, etc. Luckily, for “Murder,” I stumbled across one plant which has so many uses that its Latin name, Linum usitatissimum, means “very useful.” Thus, flax was utilized in Heaven for clothing and linens, breads, paints, personal hygiene products such as soap, toothpaste and emollients, wood-finishing, writing papers, and so on. And, since the first level of Heaven was supposed to be a familiar experience, that meant the citizens there would eat and drink, too, but all products would be based off plants. The side effect of this restriction created a new tension in the book. Rock and rollers love them some rib eye steak, barbecue chicken and buttered lobster, so their absence caused citizens to rebel against the maintainers of Heaven, the angels.

In my effort to make sure nothing seemed too out of the ordinary in Heaven, I also thought the angels should appear human-like. Naturally, they would be spotlessly clean and use no profanities. They even manage to keep their composure when the citizens protest in the street. 

Because certain elements of “Murder” were scientific in nature, especially the finer bits about measurable sub-atomic particles and interdimensional travel, I needed a detective who was completely ignorant of these kinds of facts so he, and us, would learn about them from the angels. I also thought it’d be interesting to have a PI who was also a non-believer because he’d be propelled to ask a lot of questions as opposed to simply accepting the supernatural as fact. I had Will Smith in mind for the PI and applied elements of his funny personality into it.

Last but not least, I wanted different types of people to be represented in the book. By this, I meant having characters who were gay, Latino, Asian, etc. I was thus able to kill three birds with one stone with the detective’s sidekick who is a gay mixed Latino and Asian person. I had Bruno Mars in mind for this character because he’s Filipino which, in essence, is Latino and Asian mixed. 

Thanks for reading.

The Author

About Robin Ray

Robin Ray emigrated to the U.S. from Trinidad & Tobago at the ripe old age of 12. Already steeped in the rich culture and mysteries of his native land, it would only be a matter of time before he, too, became a musician and storyteller. After a short stint at Iowa State University, he became a nurse for practical purposes but never abandoned his musical and literary aspirations. Eventually, he did play guitar in several bands, committing himself to localized tours and album releases. Leaving the music world behind, he delved headfirst back into his second love writing.

To date, he has authored six screenplays, two novels, seven novellas, around fifty short stories and many poems. Thus far, he’s published six books five fiction and one non-fiction, all available in paperback and e-book formats. His latest novel, Murder In Rock & Roll Heaven, can be purchased from Amazon. The book is on sale for only $0.99.

Find Robin Ray on the web at

The Giveaway

Robin Ray will award a $30 Amazon or Barnes and Noble Gift Card 
to a randomly drawn winner via rafflecopter during the tour.

Follow the tour here. Daily comments increase your chances of winning!

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