Category Archives: Ask Evan

California Dreamin’ — Songs my characters love

All the leaves are brown, and the sky is gray… okay, all the leaves are scarlet and it’s a vivid autumn day. The point is, songs. And not just songs I love, like “California Dreamin’,” but songs my characters love. I want to reassure everybody that my characters do have loves and hatreds. Because in a recent post — What do writers owe readers? — some commenters expressed surprise that the characters in my books are fictional. Please don’t panic. They’re as real to me as they are to you, and to prove it, here are their favorite, and least favorite, songs.


Evan Delaney — Patsy Cline, “Crazy.” Mary Chapin Carpenter, “Jubilee.”

Jesse Blackburn — Jimi Hendrix, “All Along the Watchtower.” Foo Fighters, “Times Like These.”

Jax Rivera — Ray Charles, “Georgia on My Mind.”

Jo Beckett — Elvis Costello, “Complicated Shadows.”

Gabe Quintana — Stephen Sondheim, “Johanna.” No, only kidding. Los Lobos, “Will the Wolf Survive?”

Lt. Amy Tang — Beyoncé/Jay-Z, “Crazy in Love.”

Rory Mackenzie — Radical Face, “Welcome Home.”

Riss Mackenzie — Amy Winehouse, “Some Unholy War.”


Jesse — “Memory,” played on a Hammond organ at the Holiday Inn in Goleta, California.

Evan — Donny and Marie.

Rory — anything that Riss has played within her hearing.

Ask Evan: makeup session

It’s been a while since the last edition of Ask Evan, and the questions have piled up.

Dear Evan,

Do you recommend wearing makeup, or going natural?


It depends on the situation, Anxious. For prom night, yes. For scuba diving, no. For Kabuki theater, yes, but don’t wear more than the performers. For an overseas covert mission, determine the environment before choosing jungle or desert camouflage. For your wedding, it’s mandatory. But not if you’re the groom.

Dear Evan,

I did something stupid. I let this guy take revealing photos of me and now he’s threatening to publish them. How can I protect my reputation?


Wow, these photos you’ve included with your letter are…revealing. What did I say above, about the rules for wearing makeup at your wedding? It’s too late to undo what’s done. All you can do is to behave with as much dignity as possible. (And – glitter eyeshadow? You should be embarrassed.)


I’m a photographer who took some dynamite photos I think are newsworthy. But the “bride” is now threatening me. Yesterday my car was vandalized. Should I call the police? I think the vandal spraypainted their name on the car. It’s “Dignity.”


I’m a hundred percent for freedom of the press, Snapper, but are these photos truly newsworthy? Search your conscience. On the other hand, it sounds as though a fashion crime has been committed. Call the cops.


I’m the editor of a national news magazine. A photographer friend has just submitted photos of a front-running presidential candidate in flagrante delicto with the local police chief, wearing a veil, a garter and enough lip gloss to pave I-95. Should I publish the photos?

Only in the bridal section of your magazine.

Ask Evan

Let’s get straight to the latest batch of questions.

Dear Evan,

I read in Jane’s Defence Weekly that new threats are turning the traditional approach to airborne electronic warfare on its head. Should I be worried?


Yes, you should. Electronic jamming of air defenses is a critical part of aerial warfare, though that’s not the true threat here. Reading between the lines, I suspect that this is about an emotional rather than a physical battlespace. Your girlfriend complains that you “tune her out.” Am I right? You need to turn off the TV and the iPod, quit World of Warcraft (yes, even if you’re the high scorer), light a few candles, sit down and listen to her. Don’t interrupt, don’t eat Doritos, don’t quote from Jackass, for twenty solid minutes. The results should astound you.

On the other hand, if you’re a guerrilla carrying a portable surface-to-air missile system that relies on infra-red guidance, you’re on your own, bub.

Dear Evan,

My brother gets on my nerves and nobody understands. He has a hotshot job, a fast truck, a house on the beach and a whole room full of sports trophies. I’m just a dude trying to get by. Sometimes I feel like a nothing next to him. Can you explain to him that I need room to breathe?

PJ, cut it out. Jesse’s not buying you tickets to the V Festival in London, and that’s that. I am not going to bug him to do it.

But I am having a barbecue on Saturday. Can you bring dessert?


Don’t let PJ bring brownies. The DEA is running a sting operation in Santa Barbara County. You don’t want uninvited guests kicking down your door.

However, I’m flying in from Milan. Shall I bring tiramisu? And perhaps something from Dolce and Gabbana, to replace your ratty-ass Santa Barbara clothes?

Jax? You want to turn up at my barbecue? No. Unh-unh. I’d feel safer going bomb-hunting with Jack Bauer. Sorry, woman.

Ask Evan: telling the truth

With the publication of Kill Chain just over two weeks away, it’s time for another installment of Ask Evan. Let’s get straight to the questions:

Dear Evan,

I’ve read somewhere that you can tell by a person’s eyes whether or not they are telling the truth, whether they are recalling a fact or fabricating. Could you please elaborate, giving examples?


Sure. Supposedly, if someone looks to the right while recalling an event, they’re fabricating, whereas if they look left, they’re remembering. Try this, Dubious. Stand in front of a mirror and describe your wedding night. Now describe your wedding night with George Clooney.


Note: if you’re worried that your parish priest will spot you gazing to the right, maybe you’re missing the whole point of going to confession.

Dear Evan,

I fibbed about something and need to come clean with my boyfriend. How can I do it without looking like an idiot or a big fat fake? I just can’t seem to get the words out.


That’s tough. But no matter how painful it is (and I’ve been on both sides of this problem), you must tell the truth. However, if the words truly stick in your throat, act it out instead. Set your jeans ablaze and run screaming across the room. He’ll get the message without you saying a word. Liar liar pants on fire.

Just joking, hon’. I googled your name, and you should know that once a grand jury gets involved, these things become a matter of public record. Trust me, your boyfriend already knows.

Ask Evan

This is the first in a series of occasional Q & A sessions about Evan Delaney. Or, judging, from the questions I’ve received, Q & A sessions with Evan Delaney.

From Kelly (friend and an instigator of this thing):

Dear Evan,

I’ve just passed my driving test and am looking to buy a car. You’ve driven a Ford Explorer and Jesse’s Mustang. What should I get? Also, how do you think these new eco-friendly hybrids would hold up in a car chase?

I’ve never been in a car chase. When one person’s on foot and the other’s in a Porsche, I just call it “running like hell.” That said, an eco-friendly Prius would work well in a chase. Park it in the middle of the road, block traffic with it and take off down the nearest alley.

Dear Evan,

I’ve met someone special recently and have bought them an MP3 player for their birthday. I’ve noticed that you refer to music a lot? What ten songs should I download to let them know how much I care?

Congratulations, Kelly. You sound really happy. Can you tell me more about your special someone?

Do you need to send this message in code? Try playing Black Sabbath, backward. Or if you need to bug out in a hurry, Iron Maiden’s “Head for the Hills” would be good.

Is your someone a dictator you want to depose? When US troops surrounded General Noriega in Panama, they besieged him with Guns ‘n’ Roses and (this may be too cruel for you) Cher. “Half Breed” should make any tinpot strongman run screaming from his hidey hole.

Good luck!

Question Time

When I tell people I’m blogging, I get a range of responses.

  1. Are you going to gossip about your friends?
  2. Aren’t you supposed to be writing a book?
  3. Blogging, is that where you post conspiracy theories and people flame each other in the comments?

The answers are yes, definitely, and depends on how good – though I’m not telling which of those answers relates to which question. But the main query I’m getting about blogging is: Why do you think readers want to know about you? Don’t you think they’d rather know about Evan Delaney?

Well, yeah.

Don’t you think they’d like to ask her some questions?


So here’s what I’m going to do. I’m going to take questions for Evan and periodically post answers. Whether it’s me or her responding, or one of her friends, is up to you to decipher.

Questions to follow.