Chicagoan Jamie Freveletti is a former lawyer, an avid distance runner, and a black belt in aikido—basically, the heroine of a thriller, just like those she writes.
She’s given some of those qualities and more to Emma Caldridge, the protagonist of her Thriller Award-winning series. Caldridge returns this month in her fifth outing, Blood Run. It’s the inaugural title from Calexia Press, a new publisher of crime fiction headquartered in Chicago. Jamie Freveletti is the founder, though she plans to continue publishing work traditionally, too.
In addition to her Emma Caldridge novels, Freveletti has penned two entries in the Robert Ludlum Covert One series for Ludlam’s estate, The Janus Reprisal and The Geneva Strategy, and was a contributor to the 2017 non-fiction anthology, Anatomy of Innocence, Testimonies of the Wrongfully Convicted.
I talked to Freveletti recently about Blood Run, Calexia’s origins, and the high-wire act of being both an author and a publisher.
This is the fifth in the Emma Caldridge series. What are your goals for Emma as a character as you continue the series?
Because Emma’s a biochemist and scientist, she’ll continue to address some of the more interesting discoveries in science. I’m always scanning scientific articles for cutting edge or surprising information. For example, the disease mentioned in The Ninth Day is an ancient one, but a medical journal discussed a new form of transmission and I mentioned it in the novel. This year the article hit the news and I’ve gotten emails from readers attaching links and saying, “I knew about this from your book.” I love those emails!
The crime genre is built on series novels. Why do you think readers love series characters so much, and what considerations did you make about Emma’s character to feed that love?
I think readers want to return to a character they know and like and that they can check in on. Almost like a friend: “What’s she up to now?” This also allows a reader to be confident of their expectations of a character. They know that Emma Caldridge is a woman with a strong moral code, is dedicated to helping people, and is willing to fight for herself when required. I’m mindful that she needs to remain the driving force in each book.
This is the first book out from your own press, Calexia. Tell me about why you started the press in the first place, and also why your book is the first through the chute.
The idea for Calexia Press started three years ago when I was talking to a friend in marketing (not book marketing) and they commented on how rote some of the marketing techniques used for books seemed to be. At the same time Ingram announced that they would pair with two authors to create their own “imprint” and allow them access to Ingram’s sales force and massive distribution network. I wondered what would happen if I created a modern marketing twist on a traditional press platform. Also, the chance to create employment for those in an industry that I love was a big selling point for me.
I decided not to make the press mine, but to take the imprint idea one step further and publish other authors as well, and when I approached Ingram they were intrigued. We inked a deal and Calexia has a roster of manuscripts and authors ready to go!
Mine is the first because we figured that there would be kinks to work out in the beginning phases and we didn’t want to subject any other author to those kinks.
What have you learned about publishing since becoming a publisher that you never knew as a writer?
I’ve learned that a big part of marketing a novel comes not from the moment it hits the bookshelves, but all the way back at the beginning before it gets anywhere near a reader, and a lot of this behind-the-scenes action is out of the control of the both the author and the reader. Every professional in the chain has taught me something fascinating about the process—even our printer. I was sitting with her and discussing paper stock and covers and how to best present a book with a high word count (mine run at least 95,000 words). She said, “Well, you don’t want a lot of ‘mouse-trapping.’” I must have looked puzzled because she smiled and opened a sample and showed how when it’s too dense the book will snap shut on the reader. I loved the term and have been trying to get a chance to mention it, so there it is!
What can you tell us about future titles or plans for Calexia?
We have a New York Times bestselling author up next writing a thriller, then a historical thriller, and then another Emma Caldridge novel. We want to have the process running smoothly before we attempt a full debut, but we are looking at expanding from the mystery/thriller genre in year three.
We hope your new company won’t slow down your own output. What are you working on next, and when can we read it?
I’m working on a Sherlock Holmes short story for an upcoming anthology to be published by Norton in 2018, another Caldridge thriller, also for 2018, and putting the finishing touches on a manuscript that I started three years ago, but had to put aside in order to write the Robert Ludlum Covert One novels. So the output remains!
Blood Run by Jamie Freveletti
Published November 14, 2017
Jamie Freveletti is the award-winning, Chicago-based author of six novels and contributed to the 2017 non-fiction anthology Anatomy of Innocence, Testimonies of the Wrongfully Convicted. She is also the founder of Calexia Press.
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Lori Rader-Day is the Edgar® Award-nominated author of Under a Dark Sky, The Day I Died, Little Pretty Things, and The Black Hour. She lives in Chicago, where she co-chairs the mystery readers' conference Murder and Mayhem in Chicago. Her next novel, The Lucky One, is out from Harper Collins in February.