Canopy by Liz Faraim [Book Spotlight – Lesfic Thriller]

Canopy - Liz FaraimLiz Faraim has a new lesbian contemporary thriller out, book 1 in the Vivian Chastain series: “Canopy.”

Vivian Chastain is an adrenaline addicted veteran transitioning to civilian life in Sacramento, California. She settles into a new routine while she finishes up college and works as a bartender, covering up her intense anxiety with fake bravado and swagger. All Vivian wants is peace and quiet, but her whole trajectory changes when she stumbles upon a heinous crime in progress, and has to fight for her life to get away.

While recovering from the fight, she falls in love with someone who is tall in stature but short on emotional intelligence, and this toxic union provides Vivian the relationship that she thinks she needs. Given Vivian’s insecurities and traumatic past, she clings to the relationship even while it destroys her.

Prone to fits of rage, the spiraling of Vivian’s temper creates a turning point for her as she looks within to find the peace she seeks.

Vivian’s alcoholic brother and emotionally devoid mother serve as frequent thorns in her side, prompting her turbulent history to often bubble up to the surface. The bubbling turns to a rolling boil when Vivian’s brother lands himself in jail for drunken indiscretions, and not long afterward her partner is arrested for something so atrocious Vivian cannot even fathom it. She is left pondering whether or not to believe that the person she loves could have committed such an inexcusable crime.

Vivian’s relationships are strained to their breaking points as she continues to seek balance. She turns to her best friend for support, only to be left empty handed and alone until she finds comradery and care from the last person she would have thought.

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Canopy Meme - Liz FaraimAs I approached Road 27, I saw what looked like an old warehouse. It was all closed up, the metal siding rusty, the dirt lot empty and overgrown with Russian Thistle. It was perfect for a bio break.

I backed off the throttle and downshifted. The bike rapidly slowed under me. I pulled into the dirt lot and parked along the side of the structure. I killed the engine and hopped off quickly, yanking off my helmet and gloves.

My bladder was screaming for relief. I grabbed a tissue from my tank bag and jogged around to the east side of the building so I wouldn’t be seen from the road. Dropping trou, I squatted against the side of the building. The heat of the warm metal siding radiated through the back of my shirt. Once I was finished, I stood, buckling my belt as the relief washed over my body.

The building was surrounded by row crops, and a breeze blew across the fields. The distant Sierra Mountains wavered in the hot air.

It occurred to me an abandoned warehouse like that would be a great spot for geocaching and I walked slowly along the side of the building, looking for potential geocache hiding spots.

I rounded the far corner of the building and stopped in my tracks. I was startled to see a car parked about twenty feet away. It was a rusted-out old Honda Accord, its windows rolled down. The burgundy paint was oxidized, and strips of the headliner hung down, fluttering in the hot midday breeze.

Some faint shuffling sounds came from inside the warehouse, and I realized I was standing directly in front of a rusty pedestrian door. I took a few steps back. My hands tingled and I balled them into fists.

It’s just a farm worker getting some tools, dumbass.

But the hypervigilance that had kicked in would not go away. Something was off, and it made me bristle.

I reached down for my M16 sling and came up empty. I looked down at my boots on the dusty cracked ground. They were my scuffed-up riding boots, not military issue jump boots. My pants were denim, not BDU’s.

I slipped away to another hot, dusty day five years prior. A day when RPG’s and bullets filled the air rather than the sound of the breeze rustling crops. A day when blood was shed.

I took another step away from the building and forced myself to breathe. Breathe in the smell of freshly plowed soil, leather, gasoline, and the faint hint of a dung heap.

I slapped myself across the thighs, hard. Even through denim, the sound and sting of it helped bring me back. My thighs and palms burned. I did it again to make the point to myself.

The door to the warehouse opened, and a woman stepped out. She was wearing a tan backpack, whistling, and twirling a key ring on her fingertip as she walked toward a spigot near the door. Her long hair was brown and tightly permed. She was short but solid and moved like an athlete. Scanning her, I noticed that her hands and shirt were bloody. I coiled up inside, ready to fight.

The door closed heavily behind her, and she took a few more steps before looking up and spotting me. She stopped whistling as our eyes met.

I immediately shifted into a fighting stance. With no hesitation the woman charged at me. I got low and opened my arms because I didn’t have time to try a side slip. As soon as the woman plowed into me, I wrapped my arms tightly around her.

We went down hard. I wrapped my legs around her waist. Dust and grit were immediately in the air.

I had a hard time keeping a grip on her torso because of the backpack. I worked my arms up until the crook of my elbow was wrapped around the back of her neck, holding her as close as I could. She bucked and tried to roll out of my grip. I locked my right foot into the crook of my left knee and squeezed the woman’s guts. She grunted as I clamped my thighs down around her, restricting her ability to get a full breath. She was solid and strong, deep down in her core.

Adrenaline and rage surged through my body, and a clear lucidity took over. I was in my element, and apparently so was the woman I was hanging onto.

Author Interview

Have you ever taken a trip to research a story? Tell me about it.

Yes, I have hiked specific trails in Martinez, Los Osos, and Guerneville California for the Vivian Chastain series. For the same series I also did several motorcycle rides around Northern California, such as Lake Berryessa, Winters, Rio Vista, Highway 16, and Skyline Boulevard. For locations I could not get to, I spent countless hours looking at satellite images and watching videos on Youtube that people had filmed on the roads I was writing about.

What is your writing Kryptonite?

Noise and social media. If my house is noisy it is impossible for me to focus on writing. Also, I have to put my phone away, otherwise I get lost in the time suck of social media and texting.

What do you do when you get writer’s block?

Lament about it with my writing friends, stare at the blinking cursor on the computer screen, and try to write even if I am not in the mood. I think it was Jodi Picoult who said: “You might not write well every day, but you can always edit a bad page. You can’t edit a blank page.”

Do you use a pseudonym? If so, why? If not, why not?

Yes, Liz Faraim is a pseudonym. I use a pen name because I work in a field that is public and under constant scrutiny. By keeping my day job and my writing separate I have more of an ability to truly write about what is on my mind.

If you could tell your younger writing self anything, what would it be?

Keep going.

What character gave you fits and fought against you? Did that character cause trouble because you weren’t listening and missed something important about them?

I am currently fighting with Randy Cox, who is the main character of my work in progress, titled Pinned. I have spent the last four years writing from the perspective of Vivian Chastain. Randy is a very different person than Vivian, and shifting gears to write from Randy’s perspective has been really hard. I have had to go back and edit several scenes because I realized they were more Vivian than Randy.

What secondary character would you like to explore more? Tell me about him or her.

I’ve had requests to write more about Bear and Buck, who were in all three of the Vivian Chastain books. Because of these requests I have incorporated Bear and Buck again in Pinned. It has been fun to make the puzzle pieces fit so these two characters could also flow with a completely different story arc.
What pets are currently on your keyboard, and what are their names? Pictures?

I have three cats, and the one who spends the most time walking across my keyboard is Daisy. She is a six-month-old orange tabby. Her littermate, Super Callie, spends time under my desk attacking my toes. I also have a grumpy old man cat named Harvey, who wants nothing to do with his two little sisters, thank you very much.

What’s your writing process?

I think my lack of process is the process. I am a “pantser,” which means I do not plot out my stories ahead of time.

As for the actual writing, I have my own version of Dean Wesley Smith’s “writing into the dark” method. I write around 500 words, then loop back and edit, then write another 500 words, loop back and edit, repeat. Also, each new day when I sit down to write, I re-read and edit what I wrote the day before. This cuts way back on the need for extensive edits and rewrites later.

I also tend to write in sprints; so usually about 20-30 minutes of writing and then a short break, then back to writing.

What was the first book that made you cry?

My high school Algebra 1 textbook.

What other artistic pursuits (if any) do you indulge in apart from writing?

Aside from writing, I like to paint. I take inspiration from Chinese landscape painting and paint mostly trees, grasses, and water scenes using black and gray ink.

What are some day jobs that you have held? If any of them impacted your writing, share an example.

I had plenty of jobs in my teens and twenties, including shoes sales, assistant museum curator, and master driver safety trainer. Though the two that have impacted my writing the most were my time as a soldier, and as a bartender. Readers of the Vivian Chastain series will see a lot of the solider and bartending experience come through.

Author Bio

Liz FaraimLiz Faraim is a recovering workaholic who has mastered multi-tasking, including balancing a day job, solo parenting, writing, and finding some semblance of a social life. In past lives she has been a soldier, a bartender, a shoe salesperson, an assistant museum curator, and even a driving instructor.

Liz writes contemporary fiction that highlights queer characters and often includes complex polyamorous relationships. Her writing has a hefty dose of soul searching and emotional turmoil while also taking the reader on fun adventures. She loves spending time in nature and does her best to share nature with her readers.

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Author Twitter: @FaraimLiz

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