11 Jan 2014

Bob Rector “Unthinkable Consequences”

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“Unthinkable Consequences” by Robert Rector is a well written noir thriller with a great deal of action, suspense, character depth and development.
Set in 1959 middle aged Paula has started an extra-marital affair with Kurt, a muscular hunk that fulfils all of her physical needs. When he proposes they run away together she is surprised at his feelings for her and only reluctantly agrees. Her own life is empty since she is no longer feels loved or needed but she is not yet ready to let go of her old life for an unknown new one.
Kurt is involved in some dubious criminal activities with some detestable ‘business partners’ and is scheming to get away from it all, together with Paula. Unfortunately for him his plans are not working out quite as he has hoped, both with Paula and with the con he is planning.
The story has a lot of erotic scenes since the basic attraction between Paula and Kurt is sexual. However, they both get to evaluate their lives and their feelings new, which are portrayed in slow motion as the lovers undergo their individual paths and personal development. Written with great insight into the human mind and psyche Rector gives his characters a lot of room in the story, deviating from a straight forward romance or thriller format and giving Paula and Kurt time to explore their desires and needs.
Paula’s mother falls ill and needs care while Paula’s husband and his mother start to show their true colours towards the woman in crisis. Kurt also needs to reassess his plans so that the lovers can be together on the right terms.
The book has all the ingredients for a best seller: Action, plot, romance, sex and believable and interesting characters and all in the right measure to cater for the fans of each genre. The writing flows easily and makes this a worthwhile and entertaining read.

Interview with Bob:

Tell us a little about yourself as writer and a person.

I started writing professionally in 1970 for a nationally syndicated TV show called The Now Explosion. It was the first program made up exclusively of music videos and preceded MTV by ten years. I was a one-man band. I wrote the scripts, directed and shot the film, then edited them – five films a week. It was a crash course in filmmaking and especially storytelling. I’ve been making TV shows, stage shows, and various film and video projects ever since. Personally, family and work define my life. I’ve been married for 38 years to my best friend. We have two grown sons, a wonderful daughter-in-law, and a German shepherd/beagle mix.

What made you become a writer? Have you always written? 7359474

Storytelling is in my genes. Both my paternal grandfather and maternal grandmother were wonderful storytellers that kept us grandkids spellbound for hours at a time. I started writing not long after I learned to write. I started writing professionally, as I mentioned, in 1970.

Where did you get the inspiration to write this story?

“Unthinkable Consequences” takes place in S. Florida in 1959. I grew up in N. Florida in the 50s. I was 12 in 1959 and was beginning to look at women differently, not just as moms and teachers. The women’s movement hadn’t begun yet – men still ruled the world. Many women lived in gilded cages, locked in loveless marriages. I became aware of a sexual tension vibrating just beneath the skin of these ‘high-spirited’ and frustrated women. Finally, one of them made a break for it. She was never heard from again. My story is based on what I imagined might have happened to her.

How did the characters come to you? Why this setting?

I wanted a setting that was hot and sensual and somewhat untamed. The Florida Keys in 1959 fit the bill. As for characters, Paula and Kurt and all the others in “”Unthinkable Consequences” are based on real people I have known at some point in my life. It’s the only way I know of keeping my characters honest and have them speak convincingly.

Who would play the characters in the movie – if you could choose any actor?

Paula is a strikingly beautiful and tall redhead, voluptuous, sensuous, athletic, fiery, determined, loving, funny, artistic, big-hearted, and vulnerable.
Christina Hendricks.

Kurt is a six-four monument to man in his most primal state, heavily muscled, moves like a jaguar, roguishly handsome with a perpetual shit-eating grin and a heart of gold – to those he loves.
Josh Holloway.

Do you have a favorite genre to read yourself?

I’m a mystery/thriller/suspense guy. But I like any well-told tale, regardless of genre, as long as it stays ahead of me. I hate predictability. .

Tell us a little about the history of “Unthinkable Consequences”. How long did it take you to write and publish?

I started work on the story over 20 years ago, originally as a script. Eventually I decided to make it into a novel primarily because I’d never written in that format before. However, we were very busy building a business and raising a family and the project kept getting shoved onto the back burner. About a year ago I dug it out of storage and decided it was time to finish it. So I did.

How do readers respond to the book?

I’ve been overwhelmed by the positive response. So far, it has received only 5 star reviews. It’s been called a page-turner, sexy, with characters you fall in love with, filled with unexpected twists and turns. My favorite comment was from Claude Nougat who said it was, “a thoroughly modern version of Madame Bovary. Paula is a fascinating character – and equally explosive.”

What was the easiest about writing the book and what was the hardest?

Dialogue was the easiest, perhaps because I’ve spent most of my life writing scripts, including the 3-act play “Letters From the Front.” In a play, dialogue is about all you’ve got to work with.

The hardest was cutting the final draft down from 150,000 words to 120,00, then going through it with a fine-toothed comb to correct grammar and spelling mistakes. Hated that part.

What are your next projects?

A revival of “Letters From the Front.” We toured the world with the play for 15 years and it was the most exhilarating time of our careers. Its been in hiatus for the last few years out of sheer exhaustion but now we’re ready to get it up and touring again. Lots of demand for it but it’s a big job.

What is your life like? What do you do for pleasure and work when you are not writing?

My life is fun and stimulating, as are the people I associate with. Why settle for anything less? What do I do for pleasure? I’m open. What have you got in mind? As for work, since 1970, I’ve never worked a day in my life.

Who are your literary influences? What are your favourite books/ films/ albums?

The book that did it for me, when I was about 14, was “April Morning” by Howard Fast. Before then, reading was just a way to pass the time.

My greatest influence is John D. MacDonald, the master.
Favorite books: 
anything by MacDonald, Exodus by Leon Uris, Campbell’s Kingdom by Hammond Innes, To Kill A Mockingbird by Harper Lee, The Crystal Cave by Mary Stewart. 
Films: Hitchcock’s Vertigo, Psycho & North By Northwest, Ford’s The Quiet Man, Disney’s Fantasia., anything by the Cohen Brothers
Music: Anything by Linda Eder or Billy Joel.

 

What are your views on independent publishing?

 

The verdict’s still out. I’m relatively new at it. I think the potential is great but there are too many participants who do not treat it as a business and are not only shooting themselves in the foot, but the ricochet is hitting everybody else too. For it to truly work, I believe, we can’t position ourselves as trinket sellers at a street stand. We have to establish fair prices reflecting the time and talent involved in creating our books.

 

Can you recommend any indie books/ authors?

 

Claude Nougat’s Forever Young, Dianne Harman’s Blue Coyote Motel, Simon Okill’s wacky Nobody Loves A Bigfoot Like A Bigfoot Babe, and The Luck of the Weissenstieners by a guy named Christoph Fischer.

 

What would your friends tell us if we asked for your best and your oddest qualities?

 

I polled a few friends and the consensus was –
Best: Generosity, versatility and tenaciousness. 
Oddest: Rampant eccentricity.

 

What are your favourite animal/ colour/ outdoor activity?

Animal: Dogs – all sizes, breeds, and colors.
Color: Red. Outdoor
Activity: Sipping an adult beverage on the beach, preferably at sunset in some exotic land.

What would you take to a remote island?

My wife. She’s fun.

Who would you like to invite for dinner and why?

The Cohen Brothers. The two most original talents in storytelling and filmmaking. The string of masterpieces they have produced is unmatched by anyone else in the business. They have such an unusual take on American life, I would love to pry into their minds and see what makes them tick.

What are you writing at the moment and where would we find out about your next projects?

I have two scripts that I’ve decided to adapt into novels, reversing the usual process. One is another suspense/thriller involving an attempt on a president’s life, and the other is a contemporary adventure/fantasy. I will soon have an author’s website with info on all projects in the works. Stay tuned.

What else would you like us to know about you and your books?

I’ve been fortunate to spend my life doing exactly what I wanted and have enjoyed every minute of it. As for my book, and the films and plays and videos I have made over the years, I hope those who were subjected to them were entertained and felt their investment of time well spent.

 

Bob on Goodreads:

https://www.goodreads.com/author/show/7359474.Bob_Rector

Unthinkable Consequences on Amazon:

http://bookShow.me/B00GXHPE7I

 

Bob Rector’s Unthinkable Consequences is a classic film noir in full-blown hurricane technicolour. Bob has created quite simply a breath taking masterpiece of the basic human emotions and revved them to maximum overdrive in a 1956 T Bird. The two main characters, the neglected housewife, Paula and the dangerous stranger, Kurt are instantly blended like cheap coffee in a sleazy motel. Set in Key Largo, Florida 1959, and like the original film, oozes sex appeal and raw animalistic traits. But unlike the original film, Bob has taken the lead characters to new heights, or depths, depending on the situation at hand. And oh boy do those situations change quicker than a whore on a Saturday night at the docks. The sex is sizzling like bare feet on hot sand, the dangerous criminals lurking in the background are as vicious as scorpions in a frying pan and the tension could be sliced with a chainsaw.
If you like your thrillers hot, sweaty, visceral, plain down and dirty then this FIVE STAR Bogartesque slice of nostalgia is right up your alley with a slug of gin and a slug to the jaw for good measure. And this reader does know how to whistle, and here’s looking at you, kid.
HIGHLY RECOMMENDED!

03 Dec 2013

David Chattaway: Singing Sands

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Today I present to you a very treasured and chance find of mine from Goodreads.

SINGING SANDS is FREE TODAY AND TOMORROW

 

“Singing Sand” by David Chattaway is a very impressive debut novel about Jamal, the adopted son of the Nelson family. With a scaring family background of his own and traumatic experiences from his times at an orphanage / half way house Jamal is by no means an easy character. add to that the hate his step sister Mary has for him and you have the promising premise for a powerful read and that is long before the story really begins.
The entire Nelson family go on a camping trip together and soon they find themselves in a very unexpected yet life threatening situation that brings their strength as a unit to the test.
Interspersed with flashbacks to Jamal’s past the narrative moves very fast and makes for a rather compelling page turner of a book. This is a well written action packed thriller with some great psychological insight in to the minds of the characters. It is also a great family story that defines the terms of family ties and human bonds, there is a thoughtful and pleasing message embedded in all of this. To quote from the book: Jamal has been dealt a very tough hand but he will not give up and not make anyone suffer. A great leading character, supported by several others. It is amazing how easily and yet thoroughly Chattaway has established his cast. This is very good

Interview with David:

Tell us a little about yourself as writer and a person.

 I’m a very happy person with plenty of hobbies and passions. I have been writing for years, however it wasn’t until 2011 when I started on a story idea named “Malakh” that I really caught the writing bug. I also met a fellow author at work he had released his first novel. When he explained the process of getting his work published and available for people to read I set to the task of completing some of my unfinished stories. 

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What made you become a writer? Have you always written?

It probably started when I was a child, my dad would tell me bedtime stories each night to send me off to sleep. He would come up with these intricate, involved worlds and characters and transport me there. He was incredible at painting such a vivid picture in my young mind. I wrote plenty of short stories throughout primary and high school, however I would start them but never actually finish. I think completing “Singing Sand” definitely helped me to realise what it takes to not just write, but properly complete a book. 

Were you always going to write a thriller? What is your connection to the genre?

I actually completed the draft of “Malakh” (book 1 in a fantasy trilogy) but I knew that it would take quite a lot of time to polish that book so I decided to tackle something smaller but different to what I would typically do. I love movies and Thrillers are one of my favourite genres. To be honest I don’t read any thrillers and that was part of the reason I set out to complete one. I also wanted to tackle a few moving pieces at the same time. I thought, what if the main character had experienced substantial loss, what if he was from a different background to his new family. What if the family hadn’t welcomed him fully. I guess I came up with framework of the characters in the story before I thought of the situation they might find themselves in, the thriller/suspense aspect of the book if you like. I’m not sure if this is a common process for authors of the genre, but it worked well for me.

What made you chose an orphan as hero?

 I’ve led a privileged life and thankfully had a wonderful family to support me throughout it. I think the reason for having the main character be an orphan was really because I wanted to tell a story of a persons evolution. It’s challenging to condense something so large into a short Novella but I felt that a character who had lost so much and knew that he could have done so much more to help the people he had lost would allow the reader to both be sad for his situation, but also celebrate his evolution into the person he inevitably becomes. 

Tell us a little about the history of the book. How long did it take you to write and publish?

 The original draft of the book took me around 20 hours to write, over a period of 4 weeks. There was then around 10 hours of rewriting and adding further changes based on my own observations and my friends/families. After that I spent around 15 hours editing the book and polishing it into a final draft to send to my editor. Once I received the book back I spent a further 5 hours over 2 days marking up suggested changes and finally reading the finished product for the 4th time. I then uploaded the book using createspace and it was available for sale on the 20th of October 2013. I commenced writing the story in June so in total the book took me 4 months to take it from an idea to something available to purchase.

Why did you decide to tell this story?

 I wanted to write a thriller based in Chicago, Illinois. After that the book wrote itself. I created the character of Jamal Lewis, before I had the entire story mapped out. It became a scenario where I knew that Jamal’s story needed to be told, the rest story was really a vessel to do so. I actually planned a very different story for Jamal, but I felt that the character needed to be established, his pain and loss captured and felt. I’m working on the original story now, which will be this books sequel. 

Which part of the story was easiest to write and which one the hardest?

The easiest was Jamal’s backstory in the halfway house. I found it very easy to imagine that place and the people in it. I also found the relationship between Jamal and Daniel to be very natural and the words just flowed out of me and onto the screen. The hardest part was really depicting the families reaction to the things that happen to Mary. How a young girl would react, talk and how her mother would etc… was difficult. I looked to my wife throughout the middle of the book for insights and ideas. She helped me to understand Mary, finding a place for her within Jamal’s story.

What would you say your message is? Do you find it is well received and picked up by the reviewers?

That’s a tough question, I don’t think I really ever set out to have a message. It’s interesting when you get feedback and thoughts from people on your book. People have picked out parts in the story that they connected to, explaining to me what they believe the significance of specific parts are and mean. When I read the story back to myself and I see it all unfold I think that the message is that life is a lesson, you make mistakes, sometimes the cost is substantial. The key is how you respond, what you do the next time to make amends. The book has been very well received so far, with most people enjoying the pace I set and the length of the book. It’s small but it packs a punch.

Who would play the characters in a film?

I would love a bunch of unknowns to act in a film adaptation of the book. I didn’t write the characters with anyone specific in mind and I would have to give careful consideration to who would be cast in the role as Jamal, knowing what I will demand of the character in future books.

What are your next projects? Have you written anything else?

I have completed a very rough draft version of a fantasy novel named “Malakh” which will be the first of a trilogy of books. It’s quite a significant piece of work in comparison to this novella, but despite that I do hope to have it completed and available for sale by May 2014. In addition to this I will be completing the sequel to Singing Sand in the coming months. It will follow on from the events of this book and will see the Nelson family finding themselves in another challenging situation. 

What is your life like? What do you do for pleasure and work when you are not writing?

I live in sunny Adelaide, South Australia. For the past seven years I have worked for Australia’s largest Energy retailer in their customer service department. My favourite thing to do when I’m not writing is sharing a beer with my beautiful wife, relaxing outside with our little dog Hamilton.

Who are your literary influences? What are your favourite books/ films/ albums?

 One of my favourite authors is China Mieville, I loved “Perdido street station” and “The Scar.” Steampunk science fiction is something that I love both reading and watching. I’ve always connected to Tim Burtons style of storytelling and like magical, dark spins on everyday life. I also love the book “Magician” by Raymond E. Feist. As for movies I love many, for the sake of space on this blog I will stick to one… “The Matrix”, I love this film as much for it’s incredible special effects and remarkable storytelling as I do for my memory of first seeing it. I remember that it was the first movie where I walked out speechless, just letting everything I had seen be properly absorbed. 

What are your views on independent publishing?

When I first set out on publishing Singing Sand I didn’t have a clue what I was doing. My only experiences with books where with store bought copies by famous authors, so to tell you the truth I didn’t really have a clue that everyday people could have something printed and distributed. As you embark on the journey of self-publishing you quickly learn what works, how long things take and what people like. I think that it’s excellent how accessible books have become and personally I love the idea of ebooks. The fact that someone can get a copy of my book for a reasonable price anywhere in the world within seconds of adding it to their cart is remarkable. I do however believe that it is a saturated market and with millions of dedicated writers out there the competition is stiff. I really love having full creative control on everything I produce, all the way down to my personal branding. Being an independent publisher gives me that flexibility.

Can you recommend any indie books/ authors?

I would highly recommend “Curve Day” by L. R. Currell & “Illuminating Gracie” by Lisa C.Temple

What would your friends tell us if we asked for your best and your oddest qualities?

Best would be my sense of humour and oddest would be my sense of humour.

What are your favourite animal/ colour/ outdoor activity?

My dog (he’s a cross with about three different breeds)/blue/Australian rules football (AFL)

What would you take to a remote island?

My wife, it would be a lovely little extended holiday

Who would you like to invite for dinner and why?

I would love to invite Will Ferrell for dinner, my wife and I would talk his ear off and drive him crazy with lines from his films.

What are you writing at the moment and where would we find out about your next projects?

Currently working on the sequel to Singing Sand titled “Quietus.” The best way to keep informed on my work is to follow me

on Amazon http://bookShow.me/B00G8WREL2

on Facebook at  www.facebook.com/davidchattawayauthor 

or check out the website at   www.singingsandstory.com

What else would you like us to know about you and your books?

Over the coming year I’ll be putting out another thriller/suspense novella and at least book 1 of the trilogy of Fantasy novels. I’m enthusiastic about writing and love to hear what people think of my writing so please check out the books website and my Facebook page. I love the idea of collaborating with other independent publishers so please do not hesitate to contact me!

25 Nov 2013

Jinx Schwartz: Hetta Coffey

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 I came across “Just Add Water” at a fellow author’s blog and was drawn in by the humorous style in which the author presented herself and her books.

The book, first in a series, hit the right tone with me instantly. The mysterious planned disappearance of an American man in Tokyo leaves us with a huge question mark before we turn across the Pacific and dive into a different story altogether.

Maybe as 40 year old gay man with a love for dogs I am a prime target audience for this book. It was certainly very compulsive reading to follow the main protagonist, Hetta Coffey through her adventures. She is single, pushy and could easily be best friend with many a gay man.
Not always entirely likeable but utterly watchable and eventually loveable Hetta cruises for a man in her life by the waterfront.

But we know that there is some foul play waiting for us ever since we read the prologue 5 years prior to us meeting Hetta. I was impatiently waiting for the moment where the past comes into the presence but the wait was sweetened by Hetta’s colourful and entertaining character, by quirky sense of humour, the dog and not last by the excellent one liners and her ‘tasteful un-pc-ness’ that just keeps the laughs coming.

With all humour it comes down to personal taste, so please make up your own mind but know that I spent some happy hours with Hetta and her Texan ways on the San Francisco sea shore.

Interview with Hetta:

Tell us a little about yourself as writer and a person. What would your friends tell us if we asked for your best and your oddest qualities?

My husband says I am a character, my friends say I am nuts, my enemies think I’m evil, and they are all right. As a writer I am independent and not swayed by formulas or rules, even though I believe you have to know the rules before you can break them. I am a stickler for constantly studying the craft and making my books better.

Who inspired the creation of your character Hetta? jinx desk on boat 2

As you know, Hetta Coffey is a sassy Texan with a snazzy yacht, and she’d not afraid to use it.

I was a perpetually single woman, traveling the world for work and fun, and tired of both. Seeking a change, I decided to buy a boat. A large boat. It changed my life, for I met the love of my life—Robert “Mad Dog” Schwartz—in a yacht club, and we sailed off into the sunset. So, Hetta is kind of my more flamboyant alter ego…although there are some who say we are one in the same.

What made you become a writer? Have you always written?

I fell into writing when I was doing a genealogy search on my Texas ancestors (I am a ninth-generation Texan) and saw my family besmirched in a history book. To set the record straight, I wrote a Historical/Western, The Texicans. Then, silly me, I decided to keep writing books.

When did you decide to write comedy and Hetta? 

I love comedy and come from a family that laughed a lot. Reading writers with a great sense of humor gave me heroes (Nelson DeMille, Larry McMurtry) to emulate. I adore the one-two whammy; make the reader laugh, then unload the triple whammy. Also, writing in first person allows Hetta to deliver her own brand of self-deprecating humor, and she’s not above using others in an occasional snarky bit.

I like to think of Hetta as more than just a comedy figure, but a role model for young women everywhere. Everywhere, that is, that embraces a cross between Eddy, Patsy, and Annie Oakley, with a touch of criminal tendencies and loose morals. The hardest part of writing a humorous series is keeping it fresh, and funny.

What do you like most about your characters? Which one is your favourite?

If I had children, choosing a favorite—American spelling:-)—would be like being ask to favor one. Each of my characters is like a good friend or a bad enemy. Hetta would probably choose Nacho, because he is sexy, in a criminal sort of way. Dr. Craig Washington has to be, however, my favorite guy. He is loveable and I want him to triumph over his bad choices in men. Both he and Hetta struggle with that issue.

Who would play the characters in a film?

Hetta? A cross between a younger Bette Midler and the older, grouchier, Shirley MacClaine. Of course I do have to factor in the Absolutely Fabulous gals here, as well, so a Joanna Lumley type for Jan. As for poor, patient, Jenks? I’d pick the younger version of Tommy Lee Jones. Just because I love him.

Are you like Hetta?

Yep.  013

What are your next projects?

I am working on Hetta #6 right now.

Tell us about your other books.

Troubled Sea is an out-of-sequence thriller featuring Hetta and Jenks, but much later, when they are married. I know, I know, but I wrote it right after The Texicans and it is doing well, so there you have it. Land of Mountains, told in first person narravtive from the point of view of a 10-year-old Texan who moves to Haiti in the 1950’s, it is what I call a fictography (a term I blatantly stole from John Grisham’s A Painted House), and is a much-embellished account of my childhood. Some say the protagonist, Lizbuthann, is actually Hetta. Hmmm.

What is your life like?

I live a charmed life, which worries me because my grandmother Hetta (yes, Hetta) warned me about that kind of thing. We Texans are a superstitious lot, and I don’t want to jinx myself.

What do you do for pleasure and work when you are not writing?

We tried working and found we did not care for it, so we split our time between golf and boating: golf (Mad Dog) in Arizona in the summer, and living on our boat in Mexico in the winter. When not at the computer (which is rare these days) I like to putter around painting things, and taking Zumba and Yoga. I do not play golf because I have way too much self-respect.

What are your favourite books/ films/ albums?

I like a good historical novel, light-weight beach books, and just about anything else in any language I can read. Music: Country Western and Classical.  Films: Rom Com, French farce, and vigilante justice. Hate all that animated explosion thing in so many of today’s film (me, fuddy-duddy???), but love Chicken Run and Happy Feet.

What are your views on independent publishing?

I think this is the age of the Indie. Thanks to KDP and other self-pubbing venues, I was able to part ways with my publisher and control my own writing career.

Can you recommend any indie books/ authors?

I’d better stay away from this one. I have WAY too many Indie friends to name favorites, sort like choosing that kid thing again. I am, however, going to start posting my reviews on my blog soon.

http://bit.ly/PSAAxI

 What are your favourite animal/ colour/ outdoor activity?

Love dogs, red, and boating.

What would you take to a remote island? My boat.

Who would you like to invite for dinner and why?

Hunter S. Thompson in his prime, but I’d probably have to hire some security.

What are you writing at the moment and where would we find out about your next projects?

Working another Hetta book. You can keep up with me on

Facebook at http://on.fb.me/YJ7hXT

What else would you like us to know about you and your books?

I think I’ve talked enough about me and my books. Tell us about YOU!

She’s baaaak! Just the Pits, Book 5 in the Hetta Coffey series, is now available http://amzn.to/15orD90

And for the other four, get Hetta in a box. Hetta Coffey Collection Boxed Set Books 1-4 in Award Winning Series . http://amzn.to/10QsxpI

ALL other BOOKS just 2.99, including the others in award-winning Hetta Coffey series. http://amzn.to/QpYtAR 

Twitter @jinxschwartz

FB http://on.fb.me/YJ7hXT

 

 

 

 

She’s baaaak! Just the Pits, Book 5 in the Hetta Coffey series, is now availablehttp://amzn.to/15orD90
And for the other four, get Hetta in a box. Hetta Coffey Collection Boxed Set Books 1-4 in Award Winning Series . http://amzn.to/10QsxpI
ALL other BOOKS just 2.99, including the others in award-winning Hetta Coffey series. http://amzn.to/QpYtAR  Twitter @jinxschwartz FB http://on.fb.me/YJ7hXT

 

23 Oct 2013

Dianne Harman: Blue Coyote Hotel, Tea Party Teddy and Coyote in Provence

1 Comment Book Reviews

 Today I have the pleasure to present the complete works of Dianne Harman and an interview with this wonderful and upbeat writer.

 

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“Blue Coyote Hotel” by Dianne Harman has at its heart an excellent idea and an intelligent concept that is very well presented and told with irony as well as compassion.
The main character Jeffrey is an idealistic scientist very much in love with his beautiful wife Maria. Working on an anti-ageing drug initially he compromises his work life for Maria, loses his job and ends up pursuing his dream of making the world a better place by other means at the Blue Coyote Hotel. The book actually begins with the story of one of the visitors to the Hotel and how his stay in their specially ‘air conditioned’ rooms positively affects his life. Throughout the book Maria and Jeffrey’s story is interspersed with segments about visitors whose lives miraculously change after staying at the hotel. For me this concept worked extremely well as we get to see the potential of Jeffrey’s dream and almost accidentally get to know some of the characters that will become more important for the plot later.
Harman has created two very interesting main characters with a lot going on in their lives and heads and she takes us honestly and compassionately through their changing circumstances while adding some other very colourful and entertaining people to the mix: A catholic priest, a Native Indian Doctor and an overweight business executive to name some of them.
With all the care that was put into the story and the people populating it, the book does an excellent job at making us feel for the characters, even if they bend the rules or are involved in ‘drugs’. You get to see where each character comes from and how their motifs are quite often benign and honourable. Told with wit and a great sense of irony this is a complex and engaging read that stayed with me for a long time after I finished it. With romance, idealism, moral aspects and even some suspense in the story this is a remarkable debut novel by a confident and compelling new writer. Harman tells her story with a perspective changing, confident voice which translates into a great narrative. I read the book in almost one sitting, completely involved, taken in and curious were the story would end.
Original, fascinating and very well written this is highly recommended.

INTERVIEW WITH DIANNE

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Hi Dianne, thanks for taking the time for this little interview.

Thank you for having me!

Tell us a little about yourself. Have you always written?

No. I entered the game pretty late. Actually I was 68 when my first book, Blue Coyote Motel, was published. Had always thought about writing. Who doesn’t? But I didn’t feel I had the necessary credentials such as critique groups, workshops, etc. I happened on Stephen King’s book, On Writing, and he more or less says “Just Do It” and so I did!

How did you have the inspiration for your stories?

Blue Coyote Motel was a curious thing. We were at a boutique hotel in Palms Springs, California, for a wedding. Our son was the best man and the family had taken over the hotel for the event. It was 106 degrees in October. The air conditioning was wonderful and so quiet. The old hotel had recently been refurbished. I remember turning to my husband and saying, “Wouldn’t it be interesting if someone put a ‘feel-good’ drug in the air conditioner and everyone felt good all the time?” He responded, “There’s your book.” And so it was.

My recently published sequel “Coyote in Provence” came about because so many people asked me what happened to Maria. The continuation of her story needed to be told. And am in the process of doing the final editing for the third book in the Coyote series.

Tea Party Teddy came about because my husband was in the California Legislature for twelve years and we entertained Governors, Congressmen, and people of every political persuasion. I had a front row center seat watching the political world unfold, and so I satirized the experience. It was an interesting time!

Is one of your books more important or personal to you and if so, why?

Whatever I’m writing is my favourite. It’s as if the characters dictate where the story goes. I just sit back and write what they tell me.

Do you have personal experience with politics or the pharmaceutical industry?

Pharmaceutical, no, politics, yes.

Did you do a lot of research for the books?

I research when the events call for it. For instance, in Coyote in Provence, California Impressionist paintings are stolen and smuggled into France. I was on the phone with the Los Angeles Art Fraud Division and Interpol finding out if the US could get the paintings back and what their policy was.

Would you say you have a political or personal message in your books?

I have been told there is a theme of good vs. bad in my stories, but I don’t write the story with a message in mind.

How much of the storylines was fixed before you started writing and how much changed during the process?

My writing is totally organic. I start with an idea, but I never know exactly how it’s going to come out.

Tell us a little about your writing and editing process.

I am very fortunate that I don’t have to work outside the home and I have far more time to write and edit than most people. I’m usually at my computer marketing and writing from about 7 or 8 in the morning until 5 at night and I usually write in the mornings on Saturday and Sunday. Of course, family and other things certainly cut into that time. Marketing is a big part of it, and I believe in digital marketing. As far as editing, I have a copy editor I usually send my books to first. Then I send them to beta readers. My husband is an excellent editor and reads everything two to three times. It’s amazing what you miss when it’s your own. My copy editor places a lot of emphasis on emotions, dialogue, etc. while my husband is much more plot oriented, so there’s a good balance.

Have you always written?

I wrote a book when I was nine about a little girl who goes to China. What was up with that and what did I know? Nothing! No novels until I was 68, but I wrote for newspapers, etc. during those years.

What is your writing environment like? Can you tolerate music or noise or are you a reclusive writer?

I guess I would be a reclusive writer. I don’t have music on. I sit at my computer to write and often in the morning I’ll wake up early and do marketing and email on my iPad while I have a cup of coffee in bed.

Which of your characters was most fun to write?

Slade Kelly, without a doubt. He’s simply a fun reprobate and everyone asks when I’m going to make him more of a major character. Haven’t quite worked that out.

Who would play them in a film?

I don’t know.

Are you like any of the characters?

Some have said that I’m somewhat like Nina in Tea Party Teddy, a politician’s wife. I don’t really see the resemblance, although a couple of the events in the book did happen to me. One which I still remember was being at a Boys and Girls Club dinner at the head table when a woman came up to me and told me how great it was a politician’s wife would wear the same outfit that she wore last year! Who remembers things like that?

What is your life like?

I live the dream life. I’m doing what I love and close enough to the Pacific Ocean I can walk to it. I have a great family, good health, and a husband who has taken over most of the household work so I can write. What’s not to like? I consider myself extremely fortunate!

Who are your literary influences? What are your favourite books/ films/ albums?

I seem to be influenced by whatever I’m reading. I remember years ago when I made the decision not to finish a book because I wasn’t interested in it. Now I probably only read about 10% of what I pick up. Ayn Rand made a huge impression on me. I remember picking it up the first semester of college during final exams. Not smart. I couldn’t put it down and my grades that semester reflected it! I never would have thought I would be writing a lot of thriller/suspense books, even romantic suspense, but certainly Michael Connelly, Dennis LeHane, and Daniel Silva are three that come to mind. I’m a fan of Woody Allen and love his movies!

What are your views on independent publishing?

Pro and con. I see a lot of books that are self-published that have gross errors in them and have obviously not been copy edited. That’s a shame because it certainly bears on how a reader regards the writer and the story. An excellent story can be completely ruined by sloppy editing. The great part about it is that an author doesn’t have to wait by the mailbox for years hoping for a letter of acceptance.

Can you recommend any indie books/ authors?

I love B.R. Snow. I think his books are absolutely comically wonderful. I’ve read everything he’s ever written and am anxiously awaiting his next one. John Dolan is a brilliant author who writes great stories, primarily centered in the East. He’s an extremely erudite man, and I love his references to things. And Christoph, I would be remiss if I didn’t say that your book, “The Luck of the Weissensteiners” was one of the best literary fiction books I’ve read.

What would your friends tell us if we asked for your best and your oddest qualities?

Best – I really care about people. Oddest – even though I’ve been in the public eye because of past businesses I’ve owned, antique & art appraiser, yoga studio owner, international yoga teacher, and credentialing yoga teachers, as well as having a husband in politics for 18 years, I love to be by myself. At heart I’m an introvert, not the extrovert everyone thinks!

What are your favourite animal/ colour/ outdoor activity?

My favourite animal is my 90 pound brindle boxer, Rebel. My favourite color is probably rust. As for an outdoor activity, it’s changed over the years. Used to love backpacking and have trekked in the Himalayas. I love the ocean, so probably a walk on the shore!

What would you take to a remote island?

I’d hope it has WiFi because I have become quite attached to my iPad!Yes.

Who would you like to invited for dinner and why?

Buddha. I’m fascinated by Eastern philosophy.

What are you writing at the moment and where would we find out about your next projects?

At the moment, I’m editing  two and three in the Teddy series as well as a boomer novel that interests me. You can find me on facebook (Dianne Harman) or (Dianne Harman Author), twitter @DianneDHarman, or on my website,  www.dianneharman.com

What else would you like us to know about you and your books?

I’ve never had so much fun in my life. Every book is a challenge, will this work? Will that? Does it make sense? Would a character do that? I write for the Huffington Post, over 50, and recently wrote a column entitled “Oh Wow.” As we get older, we tend to have fewer and fewer of those moments. Writing keeps my mind and opens me up to a multitude of new things and a lot of “Oh Wow” moments!

LINKS:

Blue Coyote Hotel on your Amazon site

Tea Party Teddy on your Amazon site

Coyote in Provence on your Amazon site 

Bonus feature:

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I couldn’t wait to read “Tea Party Teddy” by Dianne Harman ever since I finished her debut novel “Blue Coyote Hotel” to see where this promising and sharp minded writer would take her creative career. Tea Party Teddy is a perfect follow up, playing once again with themes of corruption and political ideals. Cleverly set up and plotted the book follows a Republican politician on his evil, ruthless and harmful campaign trail, the enemies he makes and the debt he builds and the impact of his career on his private life.
Harman does an excellent job at creating great suspense by planting plenty of plot seeds in the beginning of the book that push the story forward at perfect pace. As the story unfolds the author writes with insightful details and competent manner about the party politics, the lobbyists and corruption, infidelity and revenge.
You love to hate Teddy and with so much going on and emotions and politics going wild this is great entertainment and a fascinating and educational novel written with excellent sense for irony and dry sense of humour. 
A very compelling and rewarding read with a moral component and a lot of bite.

*****

*****

I was lucky enough to get an advance copy of “Coyote in Provence” by Dianne Harman, the long awaited sequel to her excellent novel “Blue Coyote Motel” and I am pleased to have found it just as remarkable and enjoyable as the first one.
Maria, the ageing Mexican beauty and widow of an American scientist, is hiding in France under a new identity. Harman did a splendid job at tying everything up at the end of the last book but manages to unravel the story again easily. Maria is still ambitious and somewhat of a loose agent who won’t be satisfied with a boring and secluded life and therefore attracts people and problems. Of all people she falls for a detective from Southern California on a field trip to locate stolen art.
A separate narrative introduces a filthily rich Afghan business woman with a big heart. I don’t want to give away much more of the plot to avoid spoilers. All I will say is that said woman is an amazing character and a great and intriguing addition to the already well composed and wonderful cast. Harman really knows how to write entertaining and thoughtful stories with characters caught in the grey areas of morality and legality. With clever juxtaposition and sharp dialogue Harman makes several important points about those (too often contradictory) concepts.
I was impressed how the narratives then come together and how the themes from book one returned so naturally and organically into this story. As far as sequels go this is masterfully crafted and particularly pleasing as the plot is not predictable and the book contains a lot of new elements, yet retains the original character of the series / trilogy (Maybe we can persuade Harman to go beyond the third book?).
I found this a gripping and compulsive read and – although I really hate to use this worn out phrase in reviews – I cannot wait for the next book to find out more about how the remaining issues will be resolved. 
A great equal to book one and a real treat.

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22 Oct 2013

NEW RELEASE: “STEALING ASIA” BY DAVID CLARKSON

1 Comment Book Reviews

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“Stealing Asia” by David Clarkson is another great travel adventure story by this talented author.
The first part of this book is told by Ben, a traveller in South East Asia, somewhat inexperienced but brave enough to save a girl from a mugging. The two become lovers and have a great time together until odd occurrences no longer can be seen as coincidental and Ben and his girl, also named Asia, need to get away.
But all is not as it seems, as we learn in the subsequent parts, told by different characters of the book.
The unfolding and unravelling of the plot and the change from holiday romance and harmless adventure story to action packed thriller is done very well, I did not see the twists and deceits in the story coming. The change of voice in the different parts is something often frowned upon in reviews but I personally find the benefit of added perspectives always intriguing and in this story particularly useful and enjoyable.
There is a lot of thought and plotting in this novel and we are casually confronted with the ins and outs of travelling in Asia as tourist, the author seems to have sound knowledge of the area he is writing about and feeds us information in a low key journalistic style. The narrative voices are also often understated and do feel very realistic rather than sensationalist or over the top.
I may have a thing for travel writing ever since I read “Backpack” in the 90ies but few have impressed me as much as this novel has. 
If beautiful, atmospheric and descriptive writing about a holiday adventure gone wrong is your thing and you like fast paced thrillers this is definitely for you.
Highly recommended.

 

Find David on his website:

http://www.davidclarksonwriter.com/2013/09/why-you-should-get-into-habit-of.html

Link to his book on Amazon:

http://bookShow.me/B00FNUGZQU

David on Goodreads:

https://www.goodreads.com/book/show/18633941-stealing-asia

My feature on his book “Outback” and an interview :

 

http://www.christophfischerbooks.com/the-outback-by-david-clarkson/

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Ben is a backpacker struggling with life on the road. That is until a chance encounter brings him together with the enigmatic Asia. She is smart, beautiful and everything else that he could possibly desire in a woman. She also has an uncanny habit of attracting danger. 

When events conspire to keep the pair apart, Ben begins to question if it is coincidence or a conspiracy. He learns that Asia’s life may be in danger, but he is unsure of exactly where the threat is coming from and who to trust. Only one thing is certain; unless he acts fast, it will be too late. In order to protect his new love, he is forced into making a drastic decision..

 

21 Oct 2013

“Jack Cannon’s American Destiny” by Greg Sandora

1 Comment Book Reviews

 

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“Jack Canon’s American Destiny” by Greg Sandora was given to me for a review by a blog tour operator. Political thrillers are not my usual genre but this has a very interesting main character: An idealistic Kentucky Senator, a dreamer and Democrat, who is determined to succeed for the greater good.
He tells his own story, which adds subjectivity to the story and leaves some room for making up our own mind about him. Do we agree with everything he says? We follow his campaign and the politics of 2016 America in a fast pace and smooth writing.
I probably don’t know enough about American politics to comment, but the descriptions of the campaigning are as much as I would imagine them to be. The continuous threat to a politicians integrity, the temptation in form of his assistant Sandy, a murder plot and the impact of his political life on his family, all of this is well portrayed and makes for some interesting and thoughtful reading.
This is at times a very powerful read and should please the fans of the genre.

 

 For an excerpt please scroll below. I can’t get the Rafflecopter to work today so

please leave a comment and I will make sure your details are entered in the Tour Rafflecopter.

Jack Canon’s American Destiny

by Greg Sandora

I’m originally from the Portland, Maine area and lived and worked there for years before moving to Southwest Florida. I am currently working on the sequel to Jack Canon’s American Destiny – which will be titled Jack Canon Clean Sweep. The sequel will be available in about three months.

My Dad and Mom were artists, my father painted and my mother wrote poetry and loved to garden. Most Saturdays we loaded up the 1970 Chevy Impala to trek to a one man show somewhere or other. I took a different track graduating with a business degree; owning and operating an Award Winning Franchise Fitness Center. Currently a professional manager I am living in Florida with my beautiful wife and children, and following my passion.

Some of my other projects include a children’s book called Sammy the Sea Turtle – about an infant sea turtle taken from his nest the night he was to find his way to the sea. Sammy lives with the family until their son – the boy who took him, graduates from high school. On that day Sammy, backpack in tow – begins the long journey home.
My second project in the works involves angels – a man during a visit to Bar Harbor Maine encounters an angel; quite accidentally, he is told – she was not supposed to make him aware of her existence. Only three others have ever seen the real thing. Naturally he falls hopelessly in love with the beautiful creature.

Excerpt:

The only thing that gave me a worse vibe than these two was Gene’s taste in decorating. The ceilings were about 30 feet high and three walls held books up to about the first 15 feet, after which was a very large landing around three quarters of the room. The wall opposite the door was made up of five floor-to-ceiling arched windows. The bottom six feet of each had colonial muttons and were partially opened, allowing the outside winter cold to fight with the heat in the room. On the landings above the bookshelves were housed various artifacts of torture.
Gene saw me noticing, “These are from the collection of King Henry,” he boasted.
There were guillotines and stretching racks and other devices all made of aged wood and black iron. Some had big weathered chain links hanging from them and leather straps. There were black iron turning wheels, the sight was gruesome.
Gene motioned to a large axe with a semicircular blade and an unusually long, thick handle.
“This is my prized piece of the entire collection – the axe used to behead Katherine, Henry’s youngest bride.” Mounted next to the axe, on a polished cherry post, was a scrap of parchment.
Next to it, carved in gold lettering over black onyx, was inscribed an onlooker. The parchment had faded to an almost illegible degree and was kept behind glass.
Gene said, “The onlooker’s account is sealed in helium, just like the Declaration of Independence, to preserve it. I’ve had it authenticated by historians, expert in the period.” The words were transferred onto the stone.
The eerie account told of the misty morning when the helpless fair-haired teenager, a mere girl, forced to lay under the weight of the wealth of England, was led to her death.
I read the inscribed: Queen Katherine emerged just before nine in the morning. A rain the night before had turned the courtyard muddy to our ankles. The streets containing the foul smell of chicken scratch and horse urine slurried into the mix. Gawkers’ pushed for position and strained to see the delicate fawn-like Katherine as she walked barefoot, clothed only in a very plain and simple linen dress. The exposed skin of her upper chest was so pale I could see the ghostly blue vein patchwork just beneath. The last time I had seen the young queen she was amazing, the most beautiful woman in all England.
Fancily dressed and bright, riding in an open coach smiling sweetly waving to her subjects, I fancied the thought our eyes might have met for a second.
“Spill her blood!” A spectator called out. I thought, what cowards this mob, content to stand by and watch. Greedily clinging to their own lives–any one of which could be wrenched from him in a second.
This bitter gray morning, the little Queen made her way slowly up to the old worn wooden steps, pausing briefly, turning sad doe eyes back to the crowd. A pitiful thin waif of a child so helpless and demure, Katherine continued up the stairs carefully gripping the railing as if it were her mothers hand, that somehow she might be swept away from all this.
Once upon the platform, facing the crowd full on, her tiny limbs were exposed and pale, a simple dress hanging over her nearly shapeless frame. She wore no jewelry. Her one remaining vanity, long hair, perfectly combed. The henchman placed her firmly against the block and with a blank and helpless stare Katherine moved her beautiful locks to one side exposing her slender neck.
I waited for her to jump to her feet and scream out in defiance, “What have I done that your precious King isn’t guilty of?”
Laying her head sideways on the block, she awaited her fate in silence.
The black-hooded killer appeared to us like a giant standing over her. A moment before, even the handle of the axe and the blade had been taller than the living little queen. He drew back.
I heard the neck cracking then a thud as the girl’s head crashed to the platform floor. Steam rose from the blood pouring in a warm pool from the lifeless body slumped behind the block.
Gene Hobbs had acquired the only known account of the gruesome event; one can imagine that onlookers must have rushed to write on whatever they could find to recount the scene. The metaphor of the rich over the poor and the machinery of torture in the room made me shudder. Reading the narrative, I felt sickened by the horror of the day, for lost innocence and the tyranny of the time. What a waste of a beautiful young life; what a disgrace for England.

Political Thriller Comes to Paperback an Exciting New Release from Itoh Press

Ft Myers, FL — (SBWIRE) — 03/22/2013 — Political thrillers grab readers by the frustrations and give their minds a good shake. In a time when little gets done in real world politics, and the excuses and accusations are lame, the political thriller novel fulfills a need to see change happen fast, concluding with sweeping drama. This week Itoh Press will release the paperback edition of “Jack Canon’s American Destiny”, a political thriller which has gained a word-of-mouth following in its current ebook format

Author Greg Sandora wrote “Jack Canon’s American Destiny” as a first person narrative from the point of view of a liberal politician, Jack Canon, running effectively for President Of The United States, when no one in corporate or political power wants him to succeed. A flawed character himself, Jack Canon must face down character assassination plots and murder attempts, on himself and those close to him, all in an effort to move him off political center stage.

Sandora brings the reader intimately inside the head of Jack Canon, a true-believer, a man in love with two women, charismatic, somewhere between Jack Kennedy and Hemingway, with a passion for his friends and his beliefs. The novel is unlike many political thrillers, though as suspenseful on the intrigue as the best political novels, this isn’t just a political thriller, but a character study, and a study of love and friendship among truly human characters.

The genre of the political thriller serves all shades of the political spectrum. No one character of a particular political color is immune from being cast as the hero or villain in the political thriller. However, it exists as a genre where most practitioners take a conservative leaning, where a clear protagonist is drawn with only minor flaws. The combination of a liberal politician who struggles with his own passions brings a refreshing dimension to the political thriller. That such a person might have political savvy to successfully go up against violent and unchecked powers in the country reflects the best hopes that we as a people have in our political process.

Greg Sandora’s says of his novel, “This is a story I’ve always wanted to see myself. Jack Canon’s destiny is to make things right. The wealthy in this country have picked on the foreclosed carcass of the middle class. Jack Canon is a charismatic leader who goes ‘All In’ to make things right. The climax is so shocking you’ll pull the covers and draw the shades.”

 

www.gregsandora.com

Get the Book Now
See the book trailer by clicking here!

 

Giveaway: Signed Paperbacks & Ebooks –

Winners Choice

Please leave a comment and I will make sure your details are entered in the Rafflecopter

Publisher: Itoh Press
Release Date: March 18, 2013
Amazon Kindle | Amazon Print |Barnes & Noble

Book Description:

It’s the steamy summer of 2016 in Washington, D.C. just days before the Democratic National Convention. A long and painful recession has left ordinary Americans suffering, spawning the hottest Presidential Contest in history. Jack Canon, a man born into privilege, a witness to great social injustice is going to be President of the United States–no matter what! Desperate and corrupt, the leader of the free world orders a hit to slow him down. The plan backfires–the wrong people are dead–a manhunt points to the unthinkable–The President of the United States.

Rewind one year, Jack’s focus on redistribution of wealth and energy has made him powerful enemies. Once his friends, Rogue Billionaires, Oil Sheiks, the Mob, all want him gone. The current President wants him alive–thinking he can win against an unabridged liberal. A Universal Raw Nerve of wealth vs. poverty is exposed becoming a thrill ride as deep machinations of espionage, geo-politics and deception, even murder play out. Kind and charismatic, Jack’s just naughty enough to have you falling for him like one of his loving circle of loyal friends. Of course he’s flawed, a dedicated family man, faithful to one woman, but in love with two. Is it his fault his best friend is impossibly jaw dropping beautiful? Think the crime and passion of the Godfather meets the romance and innocence of Camelot. A story that could spark a movement, a book that can seed a revolution. A heart thumping climax so shocking you’ll pull the covers and draw the shades! One things for sure, through all the drama and suspense, you’ll be pulling for Jack!

 

About Greg Sandora

Greg Sandora, author of “Jack Canon’s American Destiny“, grew up with parents who followed their passions and has spent his life doing the same. After owning an award winning fitness center in his hometown of Portland, Maine, Sandora moved to Ft Myers, Florida where he currently writes and works as a professional manager.

Jack Canon’s American Destiny” is available at Amazon and Barnes & Noble.

CONTACT
Greg Sandora
Fort Myers
609-519-8000
gregsandora99@live.com
http://www.gregsandora.com

 

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10 Oct 2013

P.C. Zick: “A Lethal Legacy”

1 Comment Book Reviews
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“A Lethal Legacy” by P.C.Zick was a real surprise-find and treat for me. Knowing this superb author from her award nominated environmental novel “Trails in the Sand” I was not prepared for a psychological thriller so incredibly well written and breath-taking.
The powerful and to me entrancing narrative follows two cousins through their lives as teenagers and young adults, their first amorous affairs and their marriages. While writer Ed envies his good looking cousin Gary the women and the ease in his life, Gary is struggling with his concealed homosexuality and would probably happily trade with Ed who has all the qualities that Ed’s father would appreciate.
I felt myself deeply engaged in the minds of these two men and was eager to find out where the story was leading, how the men would develop and if or how their many intriguing issues would be resolved. The powerful writing kept me almost entranced with the story and made for some compelling reading.
Gary’s grown up daughter Kris re-appears in his life and gets re-acquainted with her father. Ed tells her (and us) more of the missing pieces of his and Gary’s past. In small segments we learn more about the failed marriages and the friendship between the two. The narrative strands work extremely well together to keep the suspense and explain what needs to be told. Family secrets and background information add spice to the story and fairly late into the book a murder pushes the plot even further.
I am truly amazed at the author’s versatility and the quality of the writing. This reads more like it is coming from an experienced thriller expert rather than from a newcomer to the genre. I found the depth of the characters, the continuous tension and the easy flow of the narrative outstanding and must give this book a very enthusiastic 5 stars.
Interview with the author:
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Welcome back to the blog. What made you decide to write/ publish a thriller after writing/publishing environmentally themed books?
 
Actually I wrote A Lethal Legacy in 2000. It was my second novel and an experiment in writing technique. I wrote it in first person, but the main character is a man about fifteen to twenty years older than me. I tried to keep it suspenseful yet thoughtful so I made Ed, the main character, a writer.
 
I understand You wrote the book ten years ago.Tell us a little about the history of the book.

There’s bits of truth interspersed. An event with some family members gave me an idea. I had a cousin who was similar to the Gary character although I extrapolated the details of my cousin’s life from small little tidbits. He was the only son of my dad’s brother and wife. He had two marriages (one to Miss America 1973 who’s now on the 700 Club as a host) that ended abruptly. One involved the removal of his son as a young child. My cousin ended up dying in San Diego in 1992 with a dear friend who called my aunt and uncle with the news. The friend was with him when he died and he was male. My aunt and uncle refused to go to his funeral even money, time, and health were not issues. They told the rest of us my cousin died of lymph node cancer. Then the son he hadn’t seen in fifteen years showed up at my aunt and uncle’s and started bilking money from them. The police even suspected that he tried to kill my aunt with an overdose of phenobarbital. I had to do something with this story. My aunt didn’t die until a year later and in the meantime she had her will changed to disinherit her grandson. Who couldn’t resist writing that plot?

What was your motivation to write A Lethal Legacy? Do you have a particular message you would like to convey?

Many things occurred in the lives of the people I just mentioned that involved greed and a concentration on the outward trappings of a successful life. In fact, the first title of the book was Greed.

How did you have the inspiration for your story and your characters?

I loved writing the sexy, seductive Kristina. She is the vamp I’ve never been in real life so it was a hoot to let loose with her. I also intimately understood Ed’s character. He tried so hard to please everyone around him, but he couldn’t until he started loving himself. 

How much of the stories was fixed before you started writing and how much changed during the process?

Not much really changed in the way of plot. However, I do remember moving the scenes around quite a bit to get the flashback part right. I had two people read the first draft, and they didn’t get it or understand the plot. I went away to the beach for a few days and holed up in a hotel room with the surf beating outside my balcony. I moved the pieces around the board and came up with the right mix. When I reissued it this year, I didn’t do much of anything but work on grammatical things.

Are you like any of the characters in the book?

I believe I’m in a little bit of all the characters. The two Townsend brothers are very similar to my father and his brother–they were very easy to write.

What is your life like? What do you do for pleasure and work when you are not writing?

My husband and I love to be outdoors as much as possible. We have a small pleasure boat and spend summer weekends on the water. We also kayak and golf. My husband is a master gardener so we have an abundance of produce in the summer that I’m put up by either freezing or canning. We eat well all winter long. I lived in Florida for thirty years before marrying my husband in 2010. Then I moved to Pittsburgh, but we get back to Florida two or three times a year.

Who are your literary influences? What are your favourite books/ films/ albums?

John Steinbeck is one of my favorite authors. I also love Carl Hiassen’s books about wacky Florida. The Catcher in the Rye by J.D. Salinger is probably one of my favorite books. When I was a high school English teacher, I taught that book along with Steinbeck’s The Pearl. It was amazing to turn teenagers on through reading.

What are your views on independent publishing?

I fought it for a long time. My first three books were independently published. Then I became disillusioned with the publishing world when I realized if I could only be Madonna’s maid for a year–then I’d be able to sell a book. Then when I came out of my period of pouting, the revolution in indie publishing was occurring. I love it, but I want all Indie Authors to put out only their very best writing so we can gain respect.

Can you recommend any indie books/ authors?

I love the work of Darlene Jones, Revital Horowitz, Christina Carson, and so many others. However, my queue on my Kindle is packed so I’m sure there are many more left to discover.

What would your friends tell us if we asked for your best and your oddest qualities?

My best quality would be my sense of humor I suppose. My friends tell me all the time they laugh the hardest with me. My oddest quality? I like my underwear to match my clothes and just don’t feel put together when they don’t match.

What are your favourite animal/ colour/ outdoor activity?

I’m a lover of wild animals as long as they are left alone to be wild. I love burgundy and kayaking is my favorite outdoors activity.

What would you take to a remote island?

My husband.

Who would you like to invited for dinner and why?

I would invite Carl Hiassen because he’s so funny and breaks all the bounds of decency with his characters. I then would bring back Thomas Jefferson so we could sit around and talk about the stupidity that’s occurring in Washington right now. And then I’d like to round out the table with a few of the wonderful people I’ve met through my blog and books, but I’ve never met in person. 

What are you writing at the moment and where would we find out about your next projects?

I’m just finished putting together the diary of my great grandfather. He wrote the journal about his experiences as a Union soldier during the Civil War. I added historical tidbits to round out the piece. I’m quite proud of it. I’m also working on my next Florida environmental novel called Native Lands. I began the book several years ago, but then got busy on other projects. I’ve pulled it out and gone through it. Right now it’s on my coffee table in a three ring binder waiting for me to read and flesh out. It’s merely a 300-page outline at this point. My website, www.pczick.com, contains all the information about my books.

What else would you like us to know about you and your books?

Very simply, I love to write. I love to write about the human condition, but I also like to have a deeper meaning evolve. I believe that our future depends on us living lightly on this earth and taking responsibility for making it a better world.

Find Lethal Legacy on Amazon:

http://bookShow.me/B00F1Z74TE

Goodreads:

https://www.goodreads.com/book/show/18529710-a-lethal-legacy

The official website:

www.pczick.com

11 Aug 2013

“The Outback” by David Clarkson

1 Comment Book Reviews

 

final 2 part 2THE OUTBACK

Matt joins the outback harvest trail filled with apprehension. Is it really worth doing three months of back breaking labour in exchange for another year added to his visa? His new friends certainly think so and it is not long before they convince him of the same.

Of course, none of them are counting on their new boss. Rhett is cold, callous and delights in watching others suffer. Convinced that the old man is hiding a criminal past, the backpackers begin to do a little digging. Nothing however, can prepare them for what they find.

As the past starts repeating itself, Matt comes to realise that unless he can discover the truth about his foreman, he and his friends may be in more danger than he could possibly have imagined..

 

“The Outback” by David Clarkson was a chance find for me. I have a thing for travel and backpack stories and jumped at this book which follows a group of international younger people on a work assignment in the outback, clearing fields for three months.
The world is full of possibilities, visa problems and living in the moment. Beer, love, smoking and discovering the world, but the real world catches up with them in form of a nasty supervisor, the hostile nature and clashes with the law and the world of the aborigines. The group of characters in the book is colourful and entertaining, the friendships and relationships formed are very realistic and the book gives an excellent account of the work as you travel experience. 
This is excellently written, has great suspense and is a treat for anyone who has ever been on a backpack holiday. I found this very hard to put down, the tension and the pace of the story is really well done. Maybe I am too partial to the genre but I recommend this highly.

 

Profile Picture - kindle (2)

 

 

Interview with David:

 

David, thanks for joining us today. Tell us a little something about yourself as both a person and an author:

It took me 8 attempts to pass my driving test, so when people say that the most important trait for a writer is perseverance, I think that I pretty much have it covered!

What made you decide to be a writer? Have you always written?

I don’t think that I ever made a conscious choice to become a writer. When I returned from travelling I started to transfer my hand written travel journals to computer format, editing them as I went. With time and practice, I became more creative with what I wrote and started to semi-fictionalise some of the journals. Then one day, after a really rough day at work I came home and visualised the place that I would most like to be (it was camping under the stars in Outback Australia) and just started to write a story about it.

I know from your bio that you spent a lot of time in Australia where your book is set. How autobiographical is the story?

The setting and characters are all fictional, but much of it is a mishmash of people and places that I came across travelling. The stick picking job that the characters do in the book is based on my own experience of the same in Queensland. We had a cantankerous old supervisor who also drove one of the tractors. He used to smoke these really tightly packed rolly cigarettes, which somebody suggested were indicative of time spent in prison and it led to us all trying to guess at his past. This was where the idea of Rhett (the novel’s villain) came from.

Travel books like “Backpack” and “The Beach” have inspired me to see the world. Did you have similar experiences and do you still have the travel bug?

I don’t think that anybody ever really loses the travel bug. If I could, I would have carried on the backpacker lifestyle forever, but if you want to start a family and lay down some roots, you have to give it up eventually. I read “The Beach” shortly before I visited Thailand and when I experienced it for myself and realised just how accurately the book captures the spirit of travelling in Asia, but also turns it into such an exciting thriller, I wanted to find a book that did the same for Australia. When I started to write “The Outback”, I was really trying to write the book that I most wanted to read.

Did you have the story all planned out before you wrote it or did the characters and story surprise you?

The original story plan was a little more off the wall. The second half of the novel was going to move to an isolated observatory where some crazy scientists were doing experiments into astral projection.  Once I started writing it though and created characters that felt so real to me, I did not want to trash it all by adding the sci-fi element. The book was split in two, with the story about the observatory developing into my third novel; “Diamond Sky”.

Did you have any actors or people in mind when writing your characters?

The sisters were originally based on two girls I met briefly in Melbourne, but I now think of Keira Knightley and Emma Watson in their roles. The way that Colin speaks and his humour is based on a friend I worked with on the farms in Australia and he was always having trouble with a couple of stoners who he shared a dorm room with. I suppose that makes it ironic that I made Colin the number one stoner in the story.

Which character did you most enjoy writing? Are you like any of them?

I enjoyed writing the villain; Rhett. It was fun seeing how far I could take him and the fact that his hatred was so self defeating meant that I could show things from his perspective without clouding the morals of the story. I also enjoyed creating Colin. The main protagonist, Matt, is an everyman character and I did not want to burden him with too many vices and flaws for fear of losing the reader’s empathy for him.  That is where Colin comes in. His recklessness and attitude reflect the darker side of Matt. A bit like the devil on his shoulder, whilst Jenny is the angel on his other shoulder, who speaks to his conscience and stops him from getting into the kind of trouble that he would certainly find himself if he listened to Colin.

If you could be one of your characters, which one would you choose?

The journey for many of the characters is quite dark. The exception is Jonas, who is the only one who manages to retain a level of innocence by the end of the story. For this reason, I would have to pick him. The others just lose too much of themselves in the horrors that they face.

With which of your characters would you most like to be stuck on a deserted island?

Jenny – she’s hot, although my wife may have a thing or two to say about that. Out of the guys, I would again, have to choose Jonas. He has a naivety coupled with limitless enthusiasm that makes anything seem possible, even on a desert island. We could have fun together trying to construct a raft to get back to civilisation. On the surface he may seem like a minor character, but he actually adds a lot in way of balancing the overall tone of the story. There is always room for an optimist.

What song would you pick to go with your book?

I make a joke towards the end of the story about residents of the outback being stuck in a musical time-warp. So I guess that anything by AC/DC or Cold Chisel would be fitting in that respect. If I had to choose just one song though, it would be “Wish You Were Here” by Pink Floyd. On my first night stick-picking, we all had a party after work and one of the guys picked up a guitar and just started playing it. By the chorus the whole group was singing along and it is one of those memories that has stuck with me whilst so many others have faded.

What is your writing environment like?

I can write pretty much anywhere. I even write in front of the TV sometimes! All of my best ideas come to me when I am on the move though. I can create entire scenes on a thirty minute jog around my local park. I always plot out a scene in my head and then when I sit down at the computer it is simply a case of playing around with words until what is on the page accurately reflects what was in my mind.

Did you have any say in your cover art? What do you think of it?

When I decided to self publish I had no idea that many indies hire professionals for covers and editing. I thought that we had to do everything ourselves, so that is what I did. I used a photograph taken during my own time in the outback and played around with it until I thought that it conveyed the appropriate tone for the book. It took me a while to get the effect that I wanted, but I would not change it for a pro design as it holds a direct link to the inspiration behind the story.

How have you found the experience of self-publishing? What were your highs and lows? 

I have certainly found it a lot easier to make the content available than I thought it would be. Every positive review and word of encouragement is a high. I also never expected so many friendly communities of indie authors to exist, which is a bonus. The lows are the marketing. Everybody moans that traditional publishing is too corporate and places profit over art, but then there are so many trying to force the same business model onto self publishing. I think that self published books should be distinct from their bookstore counterparts. If we retain our identity as artists, than we can compete on a level playing field with the corporate chains, but once we start viewing our work as a product it greatly devalues it. Ultimately, if you see your story as nothing more than a disposable product, the reader will too.

What do you like best about writing? What’s your least favourite thing? 

I like the fact that nothing is set in stone. If something is not how you want it to be, you can always change it around until it is. The worst thing is the neurosis that writing breeds. Whether it is the guilt of not spending enough time with loved ones or just the insecurity of opening yourself up to being judged by everyone who reads your work; writing can be tough at times.

What is your advice to new writers?

Don’t try writing what you think readers are looking for. Try looking for readers that you think would be interested in what you want to write. If you were told from the start that you will never sell a single book, would you still write? If the answer is yes – you are a writer.

Who are your favourite authors?

John Grisham is my favourite for thrillers and I like the fact that all of his books stand alone, when it would be so easy for him to play it safe with a series (he does have YA series about a kid lawyer named Theodore Boone, but I think that stands apart from his main catalogue). Alex Garland is another favourite for similar reasons. To follow a novel like “The Beach” with “The Tesseract” (a complex story where the narrative only makes sense when unravelled into its constituent parts) is incredibly bold and then “Coma”, which is almost written in a stream of consciousness style, takes him off in yet another original direction. For non-fiction, I really like science writers such as Paul Davies, “How to Build a Time Machine” (he actually delivers on the title!) and Marcus Chown, who opens up the world of quantum physics to his reader in the way not unlike how the masked magician reveals his tricks.

What is your favourite book?

That is much too difficult a question to answer.  If books were wives I would be a polygamist.

What book are you currently reading and in what format (e-book/paperback/hardcover)? 

It is a paperback of “The Uninvited” by Liz Jensen. I hate to admit it, but my wife is a much more eclectic reader than I and this was one of her recommendations. I try to alternate between fiction and non-fiction, so the next book I read will likely be a travel journal or something on speculative science. As a writer it is useful to know as much as possible about the world and how it works.

How do you handle criticism of your work?

Denial, then acceptance and finally, I will try to improve. One of the toughest parts of the job is knowing that the strongest opinions often come from those least qualified to have an opinion. A one star review says more about the reviewer than the author, but 3 stars can never be taken lightly. I’m only starting out so I’m lucky in that I have not received any harsh reviews yet. My wife was rather blunt when she read through the first draft of my third book, however. The opening chapter moved her to tears, but then the ending left her feeling “cheated” (admittedly, it was a tad over the top). Once I stopped sulking, I realised that she was right and completely rewrote the final three chapters.

What are you working on now?

I am undergoing the final edit of my second novel, “Stealing Asia” for self-publishing soon. Like “The Outback”, it was inspired by my days travelling, but it has more of an adventure/action tone to it. After that I will publish “Diamond Sky”, the first in a trilogy about scientists who create a machine that enables astral travelling, although it is really just an unconventional love story at heart.
Please provide me with all your links, websites, buy links etc, an author picture and any book cover pictures you want to be included

Website –  http://www.davidclarksonwriter.com

Amazon (US) Kindle – http://www.amazon.com/The-Outback-ebook/dp/B00CC3M9TI

Amazon (UK) Kindle – http://www.amazon.co.uk/The-Outback-ebook/dp/B00CC3M9TI

itunes – https://itunes.apple.com/gb/book/the-outback/id638567223?mt=11

KOBO – http://store.kobobooks.com/en-gb/books/The-Outback/Sk0unvv3e0qbsKkk3F9hWA

Amazon (UK) Paperback http://www.amazon.co.uk/Outback-Mr-David-Clarkson/dp/1484838858

Amazon (US) Paperback http://www.amazon.com/Outback-Mr-David-Clarkson/dp/1484838858

28 Jul 2013

“Everyone Burns” by John Dolan

1 Comment Book Reviews

130720 EVERYONE BURNS REVISED EBOOK COVER

 

Everyone Burns by John Dolan

It is January 2005 and the charred remains of two Europeans have been discovered on the Thai island of Samui.

Local Police Chief Charoenkul, sidelined by his superiors, enlists the reluctant David Braddock, a burnt-out private detective, to assist in an ‘unofficial’ investigation.

But Braddock has problems of his own, including an affair with the same Police Chief’s wife …

Peppered with irreverent humour and some pithy comments on everyday life in the Land of Smiles, ‘Everyone Burns’ is much more than a crime novel. It is also a carefully-crafted psychological study of an anti-hero for our time

My review:

“Everyone Burns” by John Dolan was recommended to me by several friends.
The story is about a British Private Investigator and counsellor David Braddock who lives in Thailand to make his money stretch further. Braddock is a very interesting, washed out and overall really great character whom to follow is hugely entertaining. Although he has marital problems and a lot of depth there is a dubious and not so serious side to him.
Braddock gets asked by the police to assist in the investigation of a series of murders. At the same time he is being sent anonymous notes, suggesting blackmail, pointing at his affair with the wife of a colleague.
I can picture a film made from this book and I would ideally cast a Humphrey Bogard in B&W in it but fans of the genre will probably have better suggestions.
What I liked most about the book is Dolan’s writing. He is clever, perceptive and very witty. Each chapter has literary or philosophical quotations as headings and they are apt to the chapters as they bear witness to a very well read and educated writer, almost “wasted” in a crime story. I am certain that I missed lots of great references and in-jokes that pay tribute to Sherlock Holmes and other famous crime fiction but I really enjoyed the book even without catching all of them.
This book should do very well.

 

For an interview please go to my blog

 

http://writerchristophfischer.wordpress.com

 

http://writerchristophfischer.wordpress.com/2013/07/28/john-dolan-everyone-burns/

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