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FIVE QUESTIONS ... with Matty Dalrymple

Welcome to FIVE QUESTIONS. In this feature on my blog, you'll learn about new and exciting books from the author's themselves. You'll hear about the book, their characters, the inspiration behind the book, and other insider details. All through five simple questions.

Today, we are hearing from Matty Dalrymple about her new novel SCARE CARD, which is available now.

What is your new book about?

SCARE CARD continues the adventures of Lizzy Ballard, a young woman who was born with an extraordinary ability that puts herself and those around her in danger. Lizzy is trying to earn money at the poker table, and in fact the title comes from a poker term: "scare card" is a card that creates uncertainty and anxiety because of its potential to make strong hands weaker or turn weaker hands into stronger ones. Titling the books based on a game theme continues the trend set in Books 1-3: ROCK PAPER SCISSORS, SNAKES AND LADDERS, and THE IRON RING. (The Louise Mortensen Thriller Novella, which bridges Books 3 and 4 in the Lizzy Ballard series, is titled based on the name of a chess move: KILL BOX CHECKMATE.) We first meet up with Lizzy in SCARE CARD in a casino in Phoenix, where she has been hiding out with her mentor, ex-con Philip Castillo, but the action quickly moves back East to Lizzy's (and my) home base of the Philadelphia area. Lizzy also spends time in a secret compound in western Maryland, to which Louise lures Lizzy and Philip to confront the series' latest villain, Baltimore crime kingpin Billy Chapel.

What makes your protagonist unique?

On the surface, what makes Lizzy Ballard unique is the fact that, as a result of illicit experiments done on her mother during fertility treatments, she has the ability to create strokes in other people with the power of her mind. In the third book of the series, THE IRON RING, Lizzy has acquired another unique skill, and she's trying to manage these in a way that protects those around her as well as herself. On a less obvious level, despite these abilities and the heartache they've brought her, Lizzy still wants to connect with the world around her, and that tendency leads her and her allies into danger.

What was the inspiration behind the book?

I've always been fascinated by the question what happens when an extraordinary ability transforms an ordinary life. In my Ann Kinnear Suspense Novels, the extraordinary ability is the fact that Ann can communicate with the dead, but I like keeping everything else about Ann's world very ordinary. She has a business based on her ability, run by her brother Mike, that involves clients, engagement, and contracts, just as if she were a CPA or an architect--no crystal balls or Ouija boards for Ann. The same rule holds true in Lizzy Ballard's world--Lizzy's special abilities are the result of illicit experimentation that the villain, Louise Mortensen, performed on Lizzy's mother, Charlotte, when Charlotte went to Louise's fertility clinic for treatments. The Lizzy Ballard Thriller Novels trace the efforts of Lizzy and her allies as they try to deal with these extraordinary abilities in the context of the ordinary world.

What's the most interesting or unusual thing you learned while researching for this book?

I had to do a lot of research into Texas hold 'em poker because it's how teenage Lizzy, with the help of a fake ID, is trying to earn a living. As a non-poker player myself, I spent a lot of time figuring out how to describe a poker game in a way that would be engaging for readers regardless of their level of familiarity with the game. I also worked hard to make the details accurate, creating a spreadsheet to keep track of the betting, and to figure out how much money Lizzy would start out with and end up with based on the bets. I was lucky to find a good-natured friend who plays competitive poker who was unfailingly patient in answering my many, many questions.

Which is your favorite minor character and why?

The Lizzy Ballard Thrillers series features an ensemble cast of characters, and one character I had a lot of fun with in SCARE CARD is Lizzy's godfather's brother, Andy McNally. Andy faces a number of tricky and even life-threatening situations in SCARE CARD, and I enjoyed exploring how a character who in previous books has been marked mainly by his flippant attitude toward life reacts when faced with such morally ambiguous and violent situations.

SCARE CARD is available now, and can be purchased at the following retailers.


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