Thursday, January 2, 2014

Straight Chatting at the Library: Cristelle Comby, author of THE RUBY HEART

Cristelle Comby has stopped by The Library today as part of her virtual book tour with Goddess Fish Promotions. She will be awarding a signed paperback of Ruby Heart plus a signed copy of book 1, Russian Dolls, to a randomly drawn commenter during the tour. (US ONLY) I was fortunate enough to review it last year (boy, that's weird to say). You can see her other stops by going here:

Cristelle, you wrote Ashford Egan as a blind man. Why this disability? Did you always imagine the character this way? Or was it a clearly planned and plotted device?

Thanks for asking! This is such a hard multi-layered question — I’ll do my best to answer it as completely as I can.

The Neve & Egan Cases series has two main characters. Alexandra Neve: a young university student, who’s a bit of a loner whilst also being a little over zealous when it comes to rushing into crazy situations. Ashford Egan: a middle-aged cold, hard professor with a sarcastic streak a mile long.

When I began working on this series and started creating the characters, the only idea I had was: man + woman = investigative duo. From there, I started working on personality traits and physical attributes. I fleshed out Neve first — no particular reason for it, it just happened that way. Then came Egan’s turn and it was all about creating a character who could balance her out. Someone who would allow me room to be creative in my stories, make for some good dialogue, and interesting scenes. To create a strong dynamic between characters, you can always rely on differences; if characters are too similar, stories will be too linear, too boring.

So there I was. I had Neve: young and a little bit na├»ve — so I made Egan older and wiser and he became a professor. She was the kind, caring type — I made Egan colder and rough around the edges. I didn’t want him to be mean for the sake of being mean though. There had to be a reason, a little something that had made him shut off from the world and become the man he is at the start of book one. Blindness became that reason.

I think it was the best idea I’ve had in a long time — a real stroke of luck. After I thought of that, the rest fell into place on its own. Blindness helped define Neve and Egan’s relationship, helped me give my characters more purpose and room to grow emotionally. Neve tries to make Egan open up and he slowly learns to trust again — it’s a joy to write those moments, amidst the action and the PI cases.

Of course, good ideas often come with a price tag. I knew right from the start that it would be one hell of a writer’s challenge. It’s tricky to write a convincing, realistic blind person when you have both eyes to rely on. I carried out a lot of research, went outside with my eyes closed a few times (and boy, was that scary!). I really wanted to be as accurate as possible; to show Egan in a respectful way. I don’t see him as a victim and hate to think of his blindness as a disability. I really hope I managed to portray him as a strong, independent person; I worked very hard to that end.

One day, I hope to write a novel from Egan’s perspective. It’d be a real technical challenge, but I’d love to try. I still haven’t found the right “case of the week” idea for it yet though… but, one day maybe I will.


Cristelle Comby was born and raised in the French-speaking area of Switzerland, in Greater Geneva, where she still resides.

Thanks to her insatiable thirst for American and British action films and television dramas, her English is fluent.

She attributes to her origins her ever-peaceful nature and her undying love for chocolate. She has a passion for art, which also includes an interest in drawing and acting.

Ruby Heart is her second new-adult novel, and she’s hard at work on the next titles in the Neve & Egan series.

Website ~ Facebook ~ Twitter ~ Amazon ~ Goodreads


When elderly client Doris Hargrave informs private investigator Alexandra Neve that her beloved antique ruby heart necklace has gone missing for the second time in a period of over sixty years, Alexandra knows this is no ordinary jewellery theft. The ruby heart is a family heirloom and the only thing that connects an ailing Mrs. Hargrave to her parents, who were murdered during the Holocaust.

To solve the case, Alexandra and her business partner, blind history professor Ashford Egan, must sift through obscure Holocaust documents to find out the truth. It’s that way that they learn of a secret World War II-era love affair which could hold the key to all the answers they are looking for. Meanwhile, Egan is under immense pressure from the university to quit his private investigating business, and Alexandra is afraid that a man she trusts will leave her. Again.

When Alexandra begins to receive anonymous threats and her flat is vandalised, this all becomes personal. Knowing that there is someone out there to hurt her, Alexandra vows to find that elusive ruby heart if it’s the last thing she ever does.

Buy the book at Amazon.

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