The Freedom Broker

The Freedom Broker

Thea Paris is one of twenty-five elite kidnap negotiators in the world, and she takes on her toughest case with a special client: her father. The pulse-pounding action unfolds In K.J. Howe’s new thriller, The Freedom Broker, and we’re delighted to put her in the spotlight this week at You Read It Here First.

Interviewer: Christina Hamlett

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Q:  You’ve lead an international life with a wide variety of activities. Tell us about some of them.

A:  Growing up, I lived in the Middle East, Africa, the Caribbean, and Europe because my father worked in telecommunications. Adventure and travel have been an important part of my life ever since. I’ve had the pleasure of racing camels in Jordan, ziplining in Costa Rica, diving with Great Whites in South Africa, and interacting with elephants in Botswana. I really enjoy immersing myself in other cultures and learning about them.

Q:  In what ways was that lifestyle influential in prompting the urge to become a writer?

A: I had an eclectic education because of all the travel. Stories were my sanctuary, a lovely escape from the pressures of always being the new kid. I enjoyed reading so much that I wanted to create my own books. I spent years as a medical writer as I worked on my craft and storytelling skills in fiction, and I’m most grateful to have The Freedom Broker out now.

Q:  If you had never left Toronto—or had grown up and stayed in a small community—would you still have started writing novels?

A:  I definitely feel that I would be writing whether or not I’d had my international upbringing, as I love books, stories, and the experience novels provide. I started reading at an early age, and I always wanted to be an author. That said, I believe my choice of international thrillers is firmly rooted in the experiences I’ve had abroad. I work hard to create verisimilitude by immersing myself in the locales I’m writing about, as I love to transport readers there, bringing them the smells, tastes, and sounds of a country. Maybe if I would have stayed in Toronto, I would have written different books—but most likely in the thriller genre.

Q:  What comes first for you—the characters or the plot?

A:  Thea Paris came first, but in thrilleresque fashion, the story raced to close the distance. I wanted to create a strong, talented woman with humanizing vulnerabilities, including Type 1 diabetes. I enjoy books that are character based, so I’m hoping Thea might resonate with people, and perhaps encourage anyone with an illness that they can still reach for their dreams.

Given my extensive research into kidnapping the last three years, I wanted Thea to be an elite kidnap negotiator—a freedom broker—who travels to the world’s hotspots to bring captives back home. The world of hostage retrieval fascinated me, as it lurks in the shadows of society, a heartbreaking and dangerous milieu. Thea Paris became a freedom broker after she witnessed her brother’s kidnapping as a child. While her brother returned home nine months later, he was never the same. As a result, she was determined to help other hostages. There are over 40,000 reported kidnappings every year, and the number continues to grow.

Q:  What attracted you to the thriller genre?

A:  Thrillers appealed to me because I’ve always been a bit of an adrenaline junkie, something that was fostered by my father. He introduced me to motorcycles, scuba diving, and other adventures. I also love whiplash pacing, and the most suitable genre for that is thrillers. And maybe writing suspense novels is my way of vicariously experiencing the life of an action hero!

Q: Who are some of the authors in this genre whose work you especially admire?

A:  David Morrell, also known as Rambo’s Daddy, is an exceptional writer. He has had such a rich and diverse career writing everything from spy novels to historical trilogies to papers on John Wayne. I respect David’s approach to writing as he delves deeply into whatever subject matter he is studying. He is also a guru on the craft of writing, a professor of literature. And creating a new word in the English language—Rambo—is pretty darn sensational.  I also have the deepest respect for Lee Child and his creation of Jack Reacher, Lee’s character is a throwback to a Western hero, a stranger who comes into town and solves a problem, then blows back out with the wind. I love that Reacher doesn’t do laundry, that he doesn’t own a credit card, that he lives by his own rules. It’s refreshing in today’s world to have a character who stands out in the crowd—and not just by his height. And Lee’s prose is tight, smooth—he’s a brilliant author.

Q:  Authors often infuse their fictional characters with aspects of their own personality. In what ways are you and your protagonist, Thea, very much alike? And in what ways are you very much different?

A: Most authors inject themselves into their characters because writing is a catharsis, a way of making sense of our world. I feel a strong collegiality with Thea Paris, as I never wanted the fact that I was a woman to stop me from pursuing any interests. Thea and I share a love for travel and adventure, but Thea is far braver than I am. I’m not big on being shot at, but she rushes into the fray. And Thea has Type 1 diabetes, which is a serious vulnerability for her, especially when she travels abroad, as insulin is her elixir—without it, she would die.

Q:  In Thea Paris’ bio, we learn that her brother’s kidnapping led her to become a negotiator for kidnap situations and an advocate for the families. What in your life prompted you to choose this particular career path for your main character?

A:  With over 40,000 reported kidnappings a year, this issue has become a global crisis. Kidnapping is a purgatory of sorts, as the hostage is alive, but not really living life. Every single item a hostage wants, whether it be food or privileges, he/she must obtain permission for it, a horrible existence.

I spent a lot of time in countries with high threat levels, so there was always a shadow hovering over me—and being abducted was a realistic fear. When I met former hostage Peter Moore, the longest held hostage in Iraq (for almost 1000 days), I had such respect for the courage he showed under enormous duress. Peter was taken hostage along with four British military gentlemen, and sadly, he was the only one to come home alive. What made Peter able to cope?  I explore issues like this in my book. I wanted to create a character who would help bring hostages home, a strong female who would do anything to assist others. And Thea is personally motivated to be a kidnap negotiator because of her brother’s experience. It’s more of a calling than a job.

Q:  The theme of The Freedom Broker had to have involved extensive research in the arena of covert operations. How did you go about identifying expert resources so that your suspenseful plot would ring true?

A:  I attended a kidnap and ransom conference, and I met some fabulous experts who were willing to share their knowledge. From there, I kept building relationships with a variety of people in the milieu, including kidnap negotiators, former hostages, K&R insurance executives, reintegration experts, and the Special Forces soldiers who deliver ransoms and execute rescues. I plan to continue my education on this compelling topic as I write the series.

Q: What was the most intriguing thing you learned from your body of research?

A: The kidnappers usually settle for around 10-15 percent of the original ransom demand—and haggling is an important part of the process to avoid the kidnappers thinking they have a cash cow on their hands. If the hostage’s family doesn’t stretch out the negotiations (which is hard to do when your loved one is in captivity), then the kidnappers might accept the ransom as a first payment and demand more. Also, it’s important to cry poor because if you pay too much, too quickly, then you are seen as a soft target, and the kidnappers might come after you or your family member again.

Q:  Did you envision Thea Paris’ journey to become a series when you started writing your debut novel?

A: Yes, I wanted to create a series character, and I felt a freedom broker had endless story potential. There are many facets of kidnapping, from kidnap for ransom to virtual kidnappings to tiger kidnappings. I could also explore extortion and piracy in the series because Thea works in those areas. And there are endless hotspots in the world, so there are countless settings for future novels.

Q:  Let’s talk about the advantages—and the challenges—in creating and sustaining a series with an overall story arc.

A:  The advantages are many in a series. Readers tend to connect with recurring characters, as they become real to them. It’s incredible to see the fan loyalty with some major fictional characters. I definitely considered the overall story arc, but I also left wiggle room for being impulsive. Like any seasoned operative, Thea left me egress routes all planned out.

Q:  Do you work from an outline or do you let your characters “talk” to you as you work from chapter to chapter? Why does this approach work well for you?

A:  When people ask if I’m a plotter or a pantser, I answer, “pants on fire.”  I’m definitely an organic writer. I do think about the story all the time, but I don’t plot out my novels. Instead, I feel that if I’m surprised, my readers will hopefully be as well. I don’t think there is one right way to write, it’s more a personal decision based on the way you work best. I love creating as I go.

Q:  If Hollywood came calling, who would comprise your dream cast?

A:  Charlize Theron or Mila Jovovich for Thea Paris—I’d like to see a strong, fit woman play her. Phillip Winchester for Rif Asker, as I loved him in Strike Back. And Thea’s brother Nikos, maybe Robert Downey Junior or Lieb Shreiver.

Q:  Do you allow anyone to read your work in progress or do you make them wait until THE END?

A:  I’m happy to have help along the way. It’s good to talk to trusted readers, get feedback.

Q:  When and where do you feel you do your best writing?

A:  I do my best writing on my laptop alone at home on a comfortable couch. Because I travel a lot, I write on planes and in hotel rooms, but my first choice would be home sweet home.

Q:  What do you think readers would be the most surprised to learn about you?

A:  That I’m an introvert at heart. Because I had to integrate into new environments, I’ve had to come out of my shell and become more extroverted, but I truly am introverted and a little shy.

Q:  What’s next on Thea’s (and your own) plate?

A:  I’m doing edits on the second book in the series now, Skyjack. Thea is shepherding two African orphans from Nairobi to London where they are being adopted when the plane they are on is hijacked. The adventures kick off from there. The CIA, the Vatican, secret stay-behind armies from WWII all collide when Thea has a huge challenge in the not-so-friendly skies.

Q:  When you’re not at your keyboard, what do you do for fun?

A: I love sports, especially tennis and swimming. Being out in nature is also very restorative. Travel, adventure, thrills. I love learning new things.

Q:  You’re the executive director of ThrillerFest. Can you tell us more about this conference for thriller enthusiasts?

A:  ThrillerFest is the annual conference for the International Thriller Writers held every July in NYC. It’s a wonderful gathering of over 1000 authors, and we celebrate the genre. We have something for everyone, whether you’re an aspiring author, a fan, or an industry professional. You can learn more via www.thrillerfest.com

Q:  Best advice for aspiring authors?

A:  Be passionate about your subject matter. You will spend so much time working on your books, take your time and choose the genre and topic carefully. And embrace constructive criticism. Writing is a journey of a thousand steps—or more like a million words—so enjoy the process of learning and be kind to yourself. Like any skill, you need practice.

Q:  Anything else you’d like to add?

A:  I love hearing from readers, so if you’re reading this, please drop me a line anytime at kj@kjhowe.com.

I’d like to thank you for taking the time to interview me. It has been a real pleasure.

A Chat With Joan Hall Hovey

Joan Hall Hovey, Photo: Cindy Wilson/Telegraph-Journal

Joan Hall Hovey

Interviewer: Debbie A. McClure

 I’m very pleased to introduce thriller/mystery writer and fellow Canadian, Joan Hall Hovey. Joan has been blessed with a talent for telling dark stories that stay with the reader and keep them asking for more. A self-described “avid listener of stories”, she loves weaving tales that chill to the bone, however she enjoys a quieter, saner life in her lovely home in Saint John, New Brunswick. Welcome Joan!

Q: What is it about writing thrillers and dark mysteries that holds and keeps you?

A: It’s hard to know why I’m drawn to the dark side in the human psyche. Some people can’t get enough romances or westerns. My son and granddaughter are hooked on SciFi, but since childhood you could always get my attention with a good ghost story, or any story that had tension and chilled the blood.  I read everything by Edgar Allan Poe, love the Gothic suspense novels, my favorite being Charlotte Bronte’s Jane Eyre. I collected my pennies and went to see all the scary movies. Later I discovered authors Ruth Rendell, Patricia Highsmith of the Ripley books, and Stephen King.  All those authors have influenced my work in some way.

Q: You often write about strong women who are facing challenges in their life, or who must learn to trust themselves and others. What is it you want female readers to take away from your stories?

A: My main job in writing a suspense thriller is to entertain; to keep my readers at the edge of their collective chairs and turning those pages until the last and hopefully satisfying sentence. The underlying message in my books is that we’re stronger than we think we are. We find this out when we’re forced to draw on that inner strength we didn’t know we had in the face of challenges that can shake us to our very core. Most of the time we manage to come out the other side, not only relatively intact, but often to find we’ve grown in confidence and in our ability to not only survive, but thrive.

Q: What do you think is the future for print and e-books, and why?

A: I think print books will be around for a long time to come, but many people, including me, have also embraced the technological age. I have always had a passion for books. I love the heft of them, the smell, everything about books. Unfortunately, my eyes are no longer as sharp as they once were, and I can make the font on my Kindle as large as I need it to be. Because I like to read in bed (too busy writing and teaching during the day), the Kindle is very lightweight to hold in my hand, so my arthritis is thankful for it.

Q: What advice would you give to new writers just starting out on this crazy journey?

A: Focus on your writing, make it the best it can be, and try to write every day. Pick a time that works best for you. I like to write in the mornings before the rest of the world is quite awake—that time between the black and gray zone. This is how you become a disciplined writer. Learn to do the work whether or not you’re inspired, because a page you’re not happy with can always be edited and improved. The rest—publishing your book, promoting it, etc., can be learned. You can Google anything today.

As far as publishing your work goes, writers definitely have more options today than when I began. You can try for a big publisher through an agent, or a good small press, or you can even self- publish.  If you choose the latter road, keep in mind that you’re solely responsible for everything involving your book’s success. 

Q: Would you say writing the beginning, middle, or end of a book is the most difficult for you, and why?

A: I don’t find one part of the novel more difficult than another. If it’s going well and I am really into my story by experiencing what my characters are experiencing, seeing clearly those scenes in my imagination, I’ll be fine. It’s not easy, although there is nothing I can think of that’s more rewarding. Expect lots of trial and error.  Some authors like to outline, while others write by the seat of their pants. I’m somewhere in the middle. I outline mainly in my head, and take copious notes as I go along. Sometimes a plot problem will solve itself while I’m on a walk, or doing the dishes. Magic happens when you’re there, deep in the book.  Stephen King calls those great gems that come to you when you least expect them gifts from ‘the boys in the basement’.

Q: Many of your books contain an element of the supernatural in them. Have you had any experiences with the supernatural that you can share with us?

A: Yes, there are a few occurrences in my life that caused me to wonder, and sometimes even lose a little slept. I want to keep those to myself, though, so I can draw on them for future books.  

Q: As an actor you have the opportunity to act out characters and experience storytelling in a very different way. Does your acting experience influence how you write?

A: Absolutely. Just as I enter the skin of the character I’m portraying on stage, it is the same with my characters on the page. I really must inhabit their bones, take on the emotions and sensibilities of the character, because it’s how I’m able to grasp that character and make him or her real to the reader.

Q: So many novice writers balk at learning to effectively use social media and the Internet, including Facebook, Twitter, Pinterest, blogs and book trailers, in order to connect with other writers and readers. What advice would you give them when it comes to marketing and promoting their work?

A: There are literally thousands of books on Amazon, Barnes and Noble, and so on. Readers will simply never find your book if you don’t find ways to point them to it, and we’re so lucky now to be able to take advantage of social media and the internet. Marketing your book is your job as the book’s author; it goes with the territory. It can be the difference succeeding as an author or not, regardless of the level of your talent. I’d suggest spending an hour or two each day on promoting your work.

Q: What have you learned about others since you began writing?

A: I’ve been writing stories and poems since childhood, and then professionally for more than 40 years, so it’s difficult to say. The writing grew and changed as I grew and learned. I believe that’s true for most people. In September 2015, I lost my dear husband of 63 years, following a lengthy illness. It was a numbing shock, even though I knew death was inevitable. It has changed my life in ways that I don’t even understand. I’ve learned that you recognize the changes more with the passing of time, but rarely while they’re happening.

Q: Can you tell us a little about your latest novel?

A: My latest release is titled ‘And Then He Was Gone’. Here is a little about it from the back of the book:

AVAILABLE FROM AMAZON PRINT/EBOOK and other online bookstores.

WHERE IS ADAM?

Julie Raynes’ husband has been missing for six months. Devastated and confused, she refuses to believe that he would leave her voluntarily, though her best friend thinks differently. However, her Aunt Alice, a psychic, tells her Adam has been murdered, and when she reveals how she knows this, any hope that Adam is still alive, dissipates.

The police are also beginning to believe that Adam Raynes was murdered. And Julie is their prime suspect. Her life in ruins, Julie vows to hunt down whoever is responsible for Adam’s murder and make them pay for their crime.

In the meantime, David Gray, a young man who was pulled from a lake by a fisherman when he was 9 years old, wakens from a coma after nearly two decades. Unknown to Julie, Adam and David share a dark connection, a darkness that threatens to devour both of them, in a terrifying race with death.

Q: What’s next for you Joan?

A: Probably another suspense novel, but I want to explore other options as well . I have always loved writing short stories, so I may return to that at some point. I will say that I expect they will also fall somewhere on the dark side.  🙂  

You can find Joan here: http://www.joanhallhovey.com

And she loves to hear from readers.

 

 

 

A Chat With Dan Lombard

Dan Lombard

For as many years as I lived in Northern California – and even the coincidence of penning advertising copy – my path had never crossed that of fellow wordsmith and publisher Dan Lombard.* It was through some of his well-crafted political posts on Facebook that our cyber-paths not only began to cross regularly but soon segued to chats about our joint fondness for fabulous food and travel. When I learned that Death Panel, Dan’s debut novel in 2012, had been followed in rapid succession by several more, I just knew I had to put this prolific author in the global spotlight.

*A mirthful bit of disclosure here is that I’d once had a government coworker of the same name. When I encountered that name again decades later, I couldn’t help but think the passage of time had made DL much more accomplished and interesting. A closer look at his head shot, however, also explained why he never mentioned he remembered me. Because, in fact, we’ve never met.

Interviewer: Christina Hamlett

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Q: If we were to time-travel and take a peek in the bedroom of your 10-year-old self, what clues might give us an indication of what you thought you wanted to be when you grew up?

A: Probably more riddles than clues. I haven’t figured them out yet. Or maybe I just did. Yes, that is it, I was always seeking adventure in the unknown, and back in those days entertainment was very participatory and required imagination, unlike today’s passive entertainment. It was a different place and a different time though. I mean, today I’m reluctant to allow my high school children to go into our local Target store alone. But when I was 15, back in the early 70’s, my buddy and I bought Eurail Passes and toured Europe for a month with nothing but that pass, a few hundred dollars and whatever we could fit in our backpacks. I need to keep that in mind when considering a contemporary audience; their experiences today are completely unlike anything I experienced. Perhaps that is why ageism is prevalent in Hollywood and on 5th Avenue.

Q: Did you have favorite authors/books at that young age?

A: Tolkein of course, the Harry Potter of my generation. Then, not long after it was Ian Fleming, I enjoyed reading about James Bond’s adventures as much as seeing them on screen. It was not until much later in life that I became aware that a favorite childhood movie, Chitty Chitty Bang Bang, was written and directed by the same duo, Ian Fleming and Albert Broccoli, who gave us Bond in print and on film. Of course, that made complete sense.

Then it was Leon Uris and above all James Michener (notably The Source) and his ability to draw you into a tale that featured far off places and spanned centuries. At one point I also found an unfortunately misplaced copy of a Henry Miller book, I can’t even remember now if it was Tropic of Cancer or Capricorn. Needless to say, it ruined me. But little did I know it would give me a taste of what would, far in my future, (today) be the model for bestselling novels. At the time I was living in Stockholm, Sweden, a very permissive society in that regard, and on my way home from school every day (yes, in 7th grade) my buddies and I would pass by a number of sex shops. Nobody would ever bat an eye when we’d stop in for a little ogling of the picture books, furthering my youthful debauchery.

Q: And who are your favorites now?

A: I do not read near enough fiction today, either in reprint from generations ago or contemporary. My preference in writing and reading is for books with an (accurate and believable) historic context, Dan Brown being a good example. I do have one peculiarity that I will share. At the age of 25 I read the entire 6-volume set of Winston Churchill’s recounting of World War II. I reread it 25 years later at the age of 50, and expect to do so one more time at 75. However, in between those readings, I do read volume one, The Gathering Storm, alone. That volume contains the instructions on how to avoid reliving the subsequent volumes. History is fascinating, a great teacher and, unfortunately, widely ignored.

Q: What experiences – travel, work, relationships – would you say have/had the most influence on your approach and discipline toward the craft of putting a story together from start to finish?

A: It’s not so much the experiences, but my approach to them. Everything I say, do, hear, think or see is tucked away for future use, whether simply in life, at work, or perhaps to form a plot or subplot in a good story. And in dreams and nightmares, the observations do show there frequently, as well.

Q: Which is more challenging for you as an author – writing a book or writing a short story?

A: If writing was a challenge I would not be writing. Okay, that was snide. A book is more difficult but has less regret. A short story is easier, but I am always left wondering why I didn’t expand that wonderful plot into a more complete work.

Q: Catharsis often factors into the development of works that are deeply personal and/or painful. Your first book, Death Panel, addressed the failure of the medical system during the last four months of your wife’s life following a diagnosis of multiple myeloma. What governed your choice to pen this as a novel told in third-person through fictional characters rather than as a first-person memoir?

A: It was not to shield myself from pain, or to serve as an outlet for the pain. I wanted to be completely honest in recounting my experience, which included some emotions from which I felt I could derive no pride. A reader can tell, though, that the third person is merely a front, so it was not an attempt at deception. But rather to deceive myself, and thinking that, since I had signed a confidentiality agreement with Kaiser when they paid me off, that this was a defense should they decide to come after me for violating that confidence. In retrospect, the best thing possible would’ve been for them to do exactly that, to give me publicity you just can’t buy. And after that ordeal, there really wasn’t any blood for them to get in return.

Q: The reviews on Amazon reflect that the themes which underscore Death Panel have resonated with readers across the country. What was your reaction to the outpouring of vicarious support from total strangers?

A: The reviews were a tremendous reward in themselves, and were sufficient to justify the time spent writing the book. Which is fortunate since, well, there was no financial reward.

Q: Almost on the heels of your debut novel, you entered the self-publishing waters again, this time with a cat and mouse suspense thriller set against a backdrop of California’s high-speed rail system. How did Midnight Departure come about and can we draw from the plot’s prescient context that Dan Lombard is secretly psychic?

A: I actually had been against the bullet train back when it was first proposed at the turn of the century, and even financed a website called StopTheBullet.com. That measure failed, I patted myself on the back for the small part I played, and assumed that was gone. Then it came back, and I thought what a great context in which to place a cat and mouse suspense thriller. Much of what I wrote is happening, not that greed, corruption and government planning are such a novel premise.

Q: Other than flowing prose and compelling dialog, what is the most important consideration as you write?

A: I like to bring together larger concepts and figure out how to work them in together. In the case of Midnight Departure pairing the project to build a $100,000,000,000 high-speed rail system with greed and corruption might have been kind of obvious. In my screenplay Prime Time Crime I chose to pair the notion of seeking fifteen minutes of fame (and the hoped for fortune that follows) with the evolving idea that just about everything we do is, or has the potential to be, surreptitiously recorded. In Last Writes, a short story, I chose to pair a Faustian deal with unforeseen consequences, especially when the devil is the author of those consequences. In the short story Red Ringer I paired the concept of identity theft with the Wild West of the 1880’s. And in Serum 6 I chose a device that is, I think, unusual if not unique. In this medical thriller I create a situation whereby the two protagonists do not realize they are brother and sister (though the reader does) as they get closer to consummating their relationship. Later in the novel, when this knowledge makes all the difference, the roles are reversed: they believe they are brother and sister but the reader now knows they are not.

And finally, most important, as I write, I think, how will this novel translate to the big screen? And, in so doing, how can I avoid stretching credibility?  Not only do I feel compelled to research anything I write for accuracy, but timelines as well. I absolutely detest faulty timelines in writing or in movies. The notion that, in the space of five minutes (five minutes to other characters in the work, not necessarily for the reader), the protagonist can board a plan, fly halfway around the world and confront his nemesis for the final battle, just bothers me.  And bathroom breaks. How can someone live an entire life, or even a month, or a year, in a novel or a movie, and never have to relieve themselves?

Q: When and where are you the most creative at the keyboard?

A: At the strangest of times.

Q: What’s the most unusual object that occupies a space on your desk or the walls of your home office?

A: Perhaps not so much unusual as special. Many years ago I had been publishing a local advertorial magazine and for one issue I featured an artist’s work on the cover. She later confided that had done more than anything to boost her career. I soon began doing this for a different artist on each issue, though no longer as a favor. I am the proud owner of a very nice collection of art by the local art community. In one case I commissioned a piece through this arrangement, bringing the artist two very different historical renditions of William Shakespeare and had her meld them into one. He looks over my shoulder whenever I sit down to write.

Which brings me to the one thing for which I am most grateful. While the Italian language may be wonderful for soaring operatic aria, and French as a musical spoken language lacking hard edges, as a writer, I most grateful that I am an English speaker. It is an incredible language with great depth that allows nuance and poetry within prose. Rules that I can break with abandon; though recognizing the need to avoid the banality of one cliché too many. The downside? A rapidly increasing English speaking population that believes a vocabulary of under one thousand words is sufficient to see one through a lifetime of communicating.

Q: If your writing career came with its own soundtrack, what would it be and why?

A: Magic Carpet Ride by Steppenwolf, one of my ten top favorite tunes of all time, and because if its title.  Any good read should take you on a ride like that, as should the writing itself.

Q: Anticipation or the real thing: which is better?

A: If it is alright I will direct you to the answer to next question as I see them as intertwined. Anticipation is the future, the real thing is history

Q: If someone gave you a crystal ball, would you look into it?

A:  Yes, though I would likely question what I saw.

Q: What are your thoughts on modern literature and the direction it’s taking in the 21st century?

A: The greatest let down was not long after I published my first two novels. First was, after finding my book as one of an estimated 30,000 titles self-published every month, as lost in the wilderness, oblivion, that I would try giving my books away for free on Smashwords.com.  After three months of promoting myself vigorously and watching my rankings inch upwards I found I just could not compete with the porn that was also being given away.  So–no I did not decide to write my own porn–but I did download and read one. We are not talking soft core here, folks.

The second instance was shortly after publishing Midnight Departure I was on a flight back East to visit my parents and struck up a conversation with the fellow on the other side of the vacant seat between us. I gave him a free copy of Midnight Departure, for which he thanked me profusely. Thirty minutes into the flight he pulled Fifty Shades of Grey from his carry-o and was immersed for the rest of the flight. So immersed that he forgot to pack the copy of my book which was left on the vacant seat as we deplaned.

Q: Do you let anyone read your projects while they’re still in progress or do you make everyone wait until after you’ve typed “The End”? What about that method works for you?

A: I don’t really have anyone around me right now that would be particularly interested or have the time to critic a lengthy manuscript, so pretty much rely on myself.

Q: What piece of technology could you not go an entire week without using?

A: The Internet.

Q: What makes writing a joy for you?

A:  As previously stated, the fact that I get to write in English. An amazing language.

Q: What is currently gathering dust in your footlocker or (to channel Hemingway) in your mind ready to bleed from your forehead?

A: Since I have already, in bits and pieces, described the work I have completed, what lies ahead? I have a drama in the works, Jack Rabbit, a story of an accidental con man, which unfortunately will not be completed until long after Danny DeVito has stopped performing in lead roles; I pictured him firmly in my mind’s eye every time I sit down to write a chapter there. I have a great American Novel in the works, in fact in the works for fifteen years now, and largely untouched for the last seven. A paranormal novel that involves time travel, though without the intention or ability to change history.

Q: Where can readers learn more about you and your work?

A: The books are on Amazon, or drop me an e-mail at dan@mailprose.com

Q: Anything else you’d like to add?

A:  The most important part of writing, and the one which can cause the most serious hang-ups (writer’s block) is the segue. It is necessary if you want to weave your tale. Loose ends are to be avoided and ideally, you don’t give your reader a resting place where they can set the book down and resume it later!  Perfectly good, and acceptable, to fool your reader. But if you do fool them, it is best to do so with a V8-style forehead-slapper: leave clever clues.

Humor is always a useful tool in writing. I see humor as having three flavors:

Situational, where you juxtapose two or more unlikely-paired conditions in one scene.

Slapstick, where simply falling down is funny.

Wit, where you use the tool at your disposal, language, to bring a smile.  This is my favorite flavor.

So, to tie it all together, and before I lose my audience, I repeat my favorite quote by my favorite author and conclude the interview:

“Brevity is the soul of wit.”

 

 

Heaven’s Gate

Jan Dunlap

Science fiction, spirituality and a dose of suspense describes author Jan Dunlap’s first book in her new series Heaven’s Gate: Archangels Book I. Jan spins a tale of intrigue when a physicist inadvertently proves the existence of heaven and all hell breaks loose. Be the first of your friends to read what one reviewer called “a mind-blowing experience”!

Interviewer: Christy Campbell

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What or who inspired you to begin this whole journey?

The first time I stepped into a public library – I think I was about five years old – I decided then and there that some day, I wanted to have my name on a book on a library shelf. That led me to become a ferocious reader; I earned a communications degree in college and worked in PR and advertising for a few years as an account executive/writer. I wrote a family humor column for our local paper while I raised my five children, and then one day, I decided to try my hand at writing a cozy mystery just to see if I could do it. That turned into my first Birder Murder Mystery, of which there are now seven in the series.

Your previous books of memoir and cozy mystery have all employed humor. Have you always had an interest in scientific subjects that led you to switch genres?

I’ve been a closet science geek my whole life, and especially loved astronomy. When PBS aired their series on string theory many years ago, it renewed my interest in cosmology and the mysteries of quantum physics. About the same time, my oldest son took a college course from the author of the Afterlife Experiments, and he urged me to read the text, which I did. That book sparked a landslide of ideas in my head for a suspense thriller that combined speculation about life after death, religious faith, and cutting-edge physics. I thought about it for years until I realized I had to write Heaven’s Gate (the first book in my new Archangel series) or I’d never quit thinking about it! It was a huge leap from comic cozy mystery, but writing those books helped me hone my skills at suspense and character development which are key to Heaven’s Gate.

And what was Jan Dunlap, successful author, doing before exploring the publishing world?

Raising five children as a stay-at-home mom, volunteering at their schools, writing my weekly humor column and eating chocolate.

Since this book incorporates topics of spirituality and faith in God, do you have a personal backstory to share?

My children and I often discussed spirituality as they were growing up, or at least, I spent a lot of time explaining why people practiced a religion. The older my kids got, the more interesting the questions they asked! In particular, a lot of contemporary scientific discoveries seemed to diminish or contradict faith, rather than strengthen it. It made me really explore my own belief in God, and I wrote Heaven’s Gate almost as an argument for faith in God that incorporates science, rather than taking sides in a faith OR science debate.

There are those people in this world who truly believe in psychic abilities. How do you feel about that?

I totally think that we have yet to discover/document the full potential of the human brain. We all have déjà vu, compelling instincts and even snippets of prescience. I think those are types of psychic abilities, and that some people are more skilled at using those abilities than others. As my Heaven’s Gate medium Khristina reminds my hero Michael, Shakespeare was right when he penned the line that “There are more things in heaven and earth, Horatio, than are dreamt of in your philosophy.” If we think we know everything about life, that’s our pride talking, because only God knows everything.

Which leads me to of course to ask, have you ever had a psychic experience of your own?

I’ve never had what I’d term a classic psychic experience. I can’t move objects with my mind, I can’t forecast the winning lottery number, and I can’t find lost items by picturing them in my head. (Actually, I can’t find lost items no matter what I do…) But there have been a few times in my life where I could feel that something was about to happen, or I see something and I recognize it even though I have no recollection of seeing it before. Whether that’s psychic or not, it reminds me that there is more in the universe than we know.

Fill us in on some of the research topics you explored to write this manuscript?

I read extensively about Albert Einstein’s later years as he searched for the One Theory of Everything, and I poured over the PBS transcripts of the Elegant Strings series. I read about psychics who work with detectives to find lost children, and I reread the Afterlife Experiments, along with material about mediumship. I even researched survivors’ eye-witness accounts of tornados and reviewed my notes from grad school in English studies about William Blake and the Grand Narrative concept of literary criticism. I spent hours online looking up everything I could find about archangels in the Bible, as well as contemporary religious cults. I read about Russian icons and Jesuit scientists and reviewed what I remembered about a Rubik’s cube.

You’ve developed a great story! What’s next in the Archangels series?

Book Two is already finished, tentatively titled Heart and Soul, and it deals with medical science, neurobiology and the power of prayer. The hero is Raphael, or Rafe, as he’s known to my cast of characters, and his story is another roller coaster of deceit, betrayal, murder, forgiveness and redemption.

Lastly, let’s switch gears a bit. If you could attend a meet and greet for any writer living or dead, who would that be and why?

Dr. Seuss, hands down. He was unbelievably creative. I’d love to talk with him about the risks he felt concocting such wacky stories that influenced generations of children and writers.

Where can readers delve into more info about your series? Any social media or websites?

I have a Facebook page dedicated to the Archangel series at https://www.facebook.com/Archangelsseries/ and readers can get a deep look into my research and writing process on my Pinterest board https://www.pinterest.com/jandunlap/archangels-book-one/ . I’m also on Twitter @BirderMurder, on Facebook at Birder Murder Mama, and my author website is jandunlap.com. I write a blog on Goodreads now, too: https://www.goodreads.com/author/show/2100500.Jan_Dunlap/blog

 

 

Playing Mrs. Kingston

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I’m very pleased to introduce writer, television producer, film maker, and world traveller, Tony Lee Moral. Tony brings his extensive knowledge and love of Alfred Hitchcock’s work into play with his exciting new thriller novel, Playing Mrs. Kingston. Read along to discover more about this fascinating, versatile writer!

Interviewer: Debbie McClure

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Q: Tony, so many of today’s youth have no idea who Alfred Hitchcock was, or what he contributed to film. What would you like them to know about this iconic filmmaker and how his style is still being used today?

A: Alfred Hitchcock’s career spanned the history of cinema, beginning with silent films, to the invention of talkies with his film Blackmail (1929), through to the start of the modern horror slasher film with Psycho (1960). I would go as far as to say Hitchcock invented many aspects of film grammar. He was a great teacher, and inspired many other directors, producers and screenwriters. Today, filmmakers who are inspired by Hitchcock include Christopher Nolan, David Fincher, Guillermo del Torro, and many more. I write about Hitchcock’s huge influence in my book Alfred Hitchcock’s Movie Making Masterclass published by Michael Wiese Productions.

Q: As a great follower of Hitchcock, tell us how you’ve used his principles of suspense in this latest novel.

A: Hitchcock often outlined the difference between mystery and suspense. Mystery is an intellectual process like a whodunit. My novel Playing Mrs. Kingston is a murder mystery, but I made sure that it was much more than that and was full of suspense. Hitchcock said that suspense is an emotional process that makes the audience care about the characters and often cited the bomb under the table, which is about to go off. The audience knows about the bomb but the characters do not, and that’s where the suspense arises. I made sure that my readers rooted for the characters and that the story was full of suspenseful questions. Who killed Miles? Will Leiobesky expose Catriona? Will Mario go to jail?

Q: Everyone who has ever tried to accomplish something outside the norm has benefited from the support of a mentor(s), and although we know Hitchcock played a huge role in the direction you’ve taken with your books and movies, is there anyone else in your life who has significantly mentored you or contributed to your success? If so, who are they and why do you consider them instrumental to you and your work?

A: I would say F. Scott Fitzgerald is an enormously important writer in my work. The Great Gatsby is one of my favourite novels. It is the perfect American novel, where the characters are in pursuit of the American dream, rather like my protagonists. Fitzgerald’s prose is so deceptively simple and elegant, and in the many party scenes in Playing Mrs. Kingston, I was inspired by Fitzgerald’s portrayal of rich and beautiful people full of money. I was also greatly influenced by Thomas Hardy as an impressionable teenager and love writing about irony and coincidence in the novel, such as characters being in the same place at the same time. Like when Catriona, her theatre boss Lowry, and the Inspector who is chasing her, are all at the Whitney Museum, and Catriona could be exposed at any time for not really being Mrs. Kingston.

Q: When writing a novel, what do you find is the most difficult area to tackle, the beginning, the middle, or the end, and why?

A: The middle, or the second act is the most challenging, because you have to sustain interest and motivate the reader to continue reading into the third act where the whole story moves towards and everything should start falling into place. The middle section can be very challenging for a writer, but it’s the heart of the novel, full of complications and problems for your characters. My background as a screenwriter helped me literally navigate the streets of New York when creating a road map for my characters through the second act.

Q: You wanted to write a novel that followed the Hitchcockian principles of suspense, but did you find implementing those principles more difficult than you expected, or did they come easily to you?

A: I would say it is harder because you’re creating suspense through language rather than visuals, so I relied on big set pieces when writing my scenes, often in everyday places where chaos could erupt at any moment. Hitchcock loved to set his characters in places like the Plaza Hotel or the United Nations Building, symbols of law and order, where the everyman is thrown into and murder literally takes place. So I set my novel in theatres, art galleries, museums, train stations, where extraordinary events happen in ordinary situations.

Q: You write Playing Mrs. Kingston from a female protagonist’s POV, as a male writer, can you share with us why, and were there any difficulties in sustaining this throughout the writing?

A: Again I was inspired by Hitchcock, who often rooted for the suffering heroine in his film. There’s a wide belief that he was misogynist, but he most definitely was not. He was deeply emphatic with feminine feeling. Some of his best films have strong female characters at the centre; consider Notorious, Vertigo, and Marnie. He loved women and identified with their plight in patriarchal society. Winston Graham, one of my favourite authors, wrote Marnie from a first person perspective. One female critic said it was the best book about a woman written by a man. I tried to follow this with Playing Mrs. Kingston, by identifying with Catriona as a role player who is determined to succeed in 1950s New York.

Q: You are clearly drawn to the dark underside of human psychology, as evidenced in your fascination with Hitchcock and your own novel, Playing Mrs. Kingston. Can you explain what draws you to that genre and why?

A: I have a zoology and psychology background, and I see things from the point of view of instinctual animal behaviour. All good writers are natural psychologists and question the why of human behaviour. Catriona is so driven toward her goals, I think she is motivated instinctually and doesn’t always make the best decisions in the long run, which is why she becomes embroiled in this extraordinary situation of pretending to be someone she is not.

Q: Do you ever get nervous about releasing a new project, or worry about reviews and critics? What do you do about it?

A: I don’t get too nervous. I’m a television producer and have been involved in the media all my working life. As long as I know that I’ve done the best job I can under the circumstances, then I am relatively satisfied.

Q: What are your thoughts on good and evil, and the complex human psyche?

A: Sometimes I’m very sad about human behaviour, and New York where I lived for several months, is full of lonely displaced people. I feel great empathy with minor characters in the book like Leiobesky, the Polish blackmailer, or even Singer, the Swiss bank manager. On the other hand, when I experience acts of random kindness from strangers, it affirms my belief that human beings can be wonderful. Ultimately, we are so precious and unique in the universe that we should really value each other more. We only have one life and should try to fulfill our potential to the maximum.

Q: Tony, you’ve done everything from film, to novel writing, to world travel, what inspires and drives you in each of these various directions?

A: The quest for new stories, sharing human experiences, empathy with my fellow human beings, and telling a good yarn, is what drives me.

Q: What surprising fact about yourself can you share with our readers that they couldn’t discover by reading your bio, books, or watching your films?

A: I’m very dichotomous. The great screenwriter, Jay Presson Allen, who I interviewed, once said that writing is a divorcement from life. I’ve sacrificed a large part of my life in the last few years in getting my books published. At the same time, like the characters in my novel, I love meeting people and going to parties and collecting stories to write about.

Q: What’s next on your plate?

A: Another biography on Alfred Hitchcock, another novel about a girl who falls in love with a ghost, much more travel, and many great experiences.

 

Website: http://www.tonyleemoral.com/

Twitter: https://twitter.com/TonyLeeMoral

Literary Agency website profile: http://www.loiaconoliteraryagency.com/authors/tony-lee-moral/

 

 

Angels Dawn

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Friends, cute boys and lots of fun are the usual expectations of a teenage girl’s birthday affair. Unless you are the key to a past crime that you can’t remember. In Komali da Silva’s debut novel Angels Dawn, one typical teen girl finds herself thrown into a world of intrigue and danger on her sixteenth birthday, with a dose of mysterious romance on the side.

Interviewer: Christy Campbell

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When did you first decide you wanted to be a writer?

Actually, it was never my plan. I always wanted to study sports medicine but that plan was destroyed because I was diagnosed with Rheumatoid Arthritis. I had to stop doing sports for a while and I found time to read. I found my life and dreams in those books.!I was always good in writing but never invested time willingly. One day, I was on my way to work. I was sitting in the train and this idea came rushing into my mind. First thing I did was take a piece of paper and write it down, so the journey began.

Tell us about Angels Dawn. How did you come up with the concept of this novel?

I just saw these three characters in my imagination waiting to come out. Then I started writing with the description of Dawn and the story began to write itself. It’s mainly written in Dawn’s point of view because I felt very close to her. She is a 15 year old girl, living in a small town in Florida. On her 16th birthday everything changes in her life. It’s a teenage love story with a bit of a dark twist in it.

How many books are there in your debut series? 

I’m planning for three but it could also be four J

When you sit down and get to work, what habits or routines to do you have?

I always read the last chapter I wrote, that way I can start at the same place where my thoughts left me. Sometimes I even read a chapter or two of a book I really like, so that I’m inspired to write.

What is it about the young adult market that nabbed your desire to write for that genre?

It’s strange, I’m a 30 some year old woman, but I love reading young adult books. It keeps me young in heart and mind. Toni Morrison once said, if there’s a book that you want to read, but it hasn’t been written yet, then you must write it. So that’s what I did.

Who were some of the authors and titles that may have influenced your writing journey?

Becca Fitzpatrick: Hush Hush series, Carlos Ruiz Zafon: Shadow of the Wind, The Angel’s Game and the Prisoner of Heaven. J.K. Rowling: Harry Potter, all of them books And of course Lauren Kate: Fallen Series, Teardrop and not to forget Charles Dickens: Oliver Twist – It was the very first book I ever read.

Do you know where the story is going when you sit down to write it, or do you prefer to have an outline?

With Angels Dawn, I had a different ending planned but when I was almost there, my fingers typed something very different. I like that ending way more than the planned one so I polished it up and let it flow. I’m not an outline person. I like my imagination to play with my ideas. I think good books always need to have its freedom. I’m not the storyteller it’s the story, which tells the author what comes next. 

That’s how I feel with my books.

When it comes to leisure reading, what are some titles you might recommend for teens?

That’s a tough question. I love all the books written by Lauren Kate. I’m a crazy fan girl when it comes to my favorite authors. Lauren Kate visited Milano, Italy on her book tour and I traveled by train to Milano only to meet her. May be I should mention that I live in Bern Switzerland. So that’s like four hours by train to Milano. We got a lot of amazing authors out there; some of my absolute favorite authors include Cassandra Clare, Carlos Ruiz Zafon, Cecelia Ahern, J.K. Rowling, Becca Fitzpatrick, Kami Garcia , Margaret Stohl, P.C. Cast and Richelle Mead.

What are the biggest challenges for authors attempting to break into the young adult market?

There are many good and talented YA authors in the market, so it’s very difficult to get the readers to see your work. There is so much of promotion behind the process and one got to have a lot of luck on her side as well. And of course, readers love to compare. That doesn’t help much but don’t we do that too? 😀

What’s up next for your adventures in writing? 

At the moment I’m writing Fight for Dawn, book two of the series. Then I hope on finishing the series. Then I also have an idea for another novel. But it’s going to be a stand-alone and not YA related.

 

Angels Dawn is available on Amazon in paperback and Kindle.

The Expats

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“The one charm of marriage,” wrote Oscar Wilde, “is that it makes a life of deception absolutely necessary for both parties.”

In author Chris Pavone’s debut novel, The Expats, there are more than a few secrets in the mix as an ex-CIA agent moves abroad with her family. Is it a fresh chance to embrace a new circle of friends and reinvent her identity…or a grim reminder that no amount of time or distance can keep the past from catching up and demanding dark debts be paid in full?

Interviewer: Christina Hamlett

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Q: Your journey as a writer has taken an intriguing path. Tell us how your academic background in government and the skill sets required to be a cookbook editor for Clarkson Potter prepared you for the challenge of cooking up an espionage thriller novel.

A: The main useful thing I learned at Cornell was how to read critically. And that’s also what being an editor is, fundamentally, in any genre—whether for cookbooks or all the other types of books I edited. And I think that’s a large part of what being an author is too: critically reading your own work, deciding what should be deleted, what should be added, what should be better.

Q: Given your expertise as an editor, did you trust your judgment to edit the book yourself or was this task handed over to someone else?

A: I did indeed edit the hell out of myself, over and over and over. But I’m also convinced that every single book benefits from as much editing by other people as an author can stomach. I was lucky enough to find skilled people who were willing to help me with the manuscript, and I was reasonable enough to listen to what they had to say. Which is why editing and revising The Expats took twice as long as the original writing.

Q: The overarching theme of your book is that of reinvention. What do you see as the correlation between redefining oneself within the “ordinary” context of marriage and the “extraordinary” nature of literally being a stranger in a strange land?

A: I wanted The Expats to be a book that could be enjoyed on a few levels, so I tried to construct parallel tensions for the protagonist: her reinvention from a career to parenting, from being a dishonest person to a truthful one; the challenges of moving to the strange land of a foreign country, as well as to the even stranger land of home with little children. I hope that the book works as both an extraordinary story—about spies and arms dealers, stolen millions and long-play cons—and as a very ordinary story about the evolving relationship between two credible, relatable people.

Q: A few years ago you moved to Luxembourg for your wife’s job. In The Expats, your heroine Kate Moore does the same thing. Coincidence or…?

A: At forty years old, I left behind my home and my career and became a stay-at-home parent, abroad. The demands of moving to a new country, in a new language, were not unexpected. But I was surprisingly devastated by the loss of the self-definition I’d spent two decades constructing: I was a New York City book editor. But now I wasn’t, not anymore. I was suddenly a parent, plus a housekeeper and a cook and a cleaner and a travel agent. I collected neither paycheck nor praise, and I didn’t get much satisfaction out of most of what I did every day. And I didn’t know what I’d ever do again! I found myself surrounded by people—expat wives—who were more or less in the same position. Which is just an exaggerated form of the predicament of any woman who decides, for whatever reasons, to be at home with children. Who are you, then? And who will you become, after the children leave? That conundrum is what got me writing The Expats. That’s what I wanted the book to be about, and that’s why the protagonist is a woman.

Q: During that time when your wife was the family breadwinner, you took on the role of househusband and looking after a pair of lively four-year-old boys. Looking back, which was harder: to be the stay-at-home parent or to keep track of the multiple moving parts in a highly complex novel?

A: Definitely more difficult to be a stay-at-home parent to little kids. Now we’re back in New York City, which is much easier for me, and our twins are nine—reasonable, responsible little people, the best friends I’ve ever had, my most enjoyable company. When I’m an old man, I’m sure that I’ll look back on this experience as the most worthwhile thing I ever did. But a half-decade ago, in the cold lonely damp of northern Europe, it didn’t look that way.

Q: So who’s doing the cooking, cleaning and laundry now that you’re settled back in New York?

A: Besides the Luxembourg adventure and college, I’ve lived in New York City my whole life. One of the things I really love about this city is that there’s always someone willing to cook delicious food and deliver it to your home within twenty minutes, for very little money, at any time; I really love ordering in. So now I cook when I want to, because I enjoy cooking, and not because I have to. I also do a lot less cleaning and laundry.

Q: How much research was involved insofar as the weaponry, gadgetry, expatriate mindsets, cyber theft, and covert operations to make the plot of The Expats ring true?

A: My computer skills are limited to typing in a word-processing program, and even with that I don’t know how to use 99 percent of the functions. So I needed to read up on cybercrime; I also read a few CIA memoirs. But in the end almost none of that research-driven material made it into the book; a sentence here and there, a few stray paragraphs. I wanted The Expats to be about characters, not stuff; I wanted it to be based on my experiences, not the lives of others that I’d gleaned from their books. If The Expats rings true, I think it’s because the characters and their motivations are credible and relatable, not because I researched firearms.

Q: Were you thinking cinematically as you penned the plot and, if so, which actors were you envisioning in the key roles?

A: Yes, I wanted readers to be able to see—and sometimes feel, smell, taste, hear—the scenes. I was very focused on writing a sensuous book, and I had a clear vision for every section. And yes, I do know what a lot of the characters look like. But those faces don’t correspond to real people, actors or not. They’re just faces in my imagination.

Q: The novel utilizes multiple flashbacks within flashbacks. What was your methodology for managing these jumps and intercuts between past and present?

A: While writing I always have two documents open: the manuscript itself, and the outline. I was constantly revising the outline—moving scenes and plot revelations—but I was never ignoring it. The same is true for my next book, The Accident, which also doesn’t have a plot that anyone would call simple.

Q: The Expats was an international bestseller, and won the Edgar Award for best first novel, and is being translated into nearly twenty languages and developed for film. There must be pressure to continue Kate Moore’s story with a sequel, or as a series. Why or why not do you think this would work?

A: I can imagine a lot more of Kate’s story, and I fully intend to write about her again in the future. But I know myself, and my finite capacity to enjoy (or endure) the same experience repeatedly, so I’m wary of getting handcuffed into a job that I’ll find unsatisfying. So although Kate Moore makes a cameo appearance in The Accident, she’s a very minor character. The cast—and the locales—are almost entirely new. (Though there is a very minor character in The Expats who became a major character in The Accident.)

Q: How did you go about finding a publisher?

A: First I found an agent, which I did by asking someone I’ve known for two decades if he’d be willing to take a look at my manuscript. He was. We worked on the manuscript for a few months before we agreed it was ready, then he submitted it to publishers. Within a few days we had a preemptive offer from Crown, which is part of the Random House conglomerate, where I’d worked for ten years. This is not a typical path for a first-time novelist, and certainly not the most direct. If anyone wants to try this method, be forewarned that you have to start the process twenty years before you write your first book.

Q: Now that you’re on the other side of the publishing desk, so to speak, what’s your best advice to others who are just starting out on their writing careers?

A: Fully commit. I think any career related to the written word—in magazines or newspapers, as a teacher or editor or agent—will not only make you a better writer, but will also produce direct and meaningful connections to the publishing world, and sooner or later can put you in the path of a book contract. Unfortunately, none of these fields pays well. You can have a career that affords you a fancy car, or one that generates a book contract, but probably not both.

Q: Where is your favorite place to write and your best time to be creative?

A: I write in two places: one is a private members’ club, which has a busy hubbub about it, and a swimming pool on the roof, and wait staff refilling a bottomless cup of coffee, and restaurants, and sometimes famous people, and a whiff of glamour. It’s a good place to get inspired, but not a great place to concentrate on nitty-gritty writing. The other is a no-nonsense writers’ room, small cubbies and white-noise machines, no distractions. Sometimes I need one of these environments, sometimes the other. But at either place, I arrive every morning at nine, after dropping the kids at school, and I work until I get hungry.

Q: What would readers be the most surprised to learn about you?

A: In the 2002 edition of The New American Bartender’s Guide, there’s a drink called the Chris Pavone Martini, invented by (and, obviously, named for) me.

Q: What’s next on your plate?

A: The Accident goes on sale in March 2014, a few months from now. I finished working on that book over the summer, and then I started writing my third, but I’m not talking about it yet.

Q: Anything else you’d like readers to know?

A: I can be reached at chris@chrispavone.com. I think I’ve answered every single email I’ve received from readers, because I love to.

 

Mocha, Moonlight and Murder

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The last thing Katherine O’Brian needed when she hopped out to satisfy a late-night snack attack was to come upon a murderer. Not only is her life now in jeopardy as the crime’s only witness but her heart is traversing some pretty dangerous territory as well in the romance department.

First-time author MaryAnn Kempher draws upon many aspects of her real-life passions and her familiarity with Reno (the story’s backdrop) to craft Mocha, Moonlight and Murder, a romance suspense that has recently been published through Booktrope. The debut novel did very well for September, reaching #97 on Amazon’s Top 100 and #4 in both Suspense and Romantic Suspense. I haven’t read this book, but you may see samples of it on her website (http://mkempher.com/) and on Amazon (http://www.amazon.com/Mocha-Moonlight-and-Murder-ebook/dp/B00CD4AYVG/ref=sr_1_1?ie=UTF8&qid=1380897693&sr=8-1).

Interviewer: Joanna Celeste

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Q: Your debut novel, Mocha, Moonlight and Murder, follows the story of twenty-something Katherine O’Brian as the accidental witness of a brutal murder, and Scott Mitchell as the somewhat reluctant partner in anti-crime, working alongside Katherine to help her solve the murder before the killer can keep her quiet. When and how did this story first come to you?

A: Oh wow, this story evolved. It actually started out as a story about insurance fraud. It’s hard to say how a character or story develops; they do kind of take on a life of their own!

Q: Was there a particular character that surprised you?

A: Katherine just came to life for me. She doesn’t take any grief from anyone yet isn’t nasty about it. She and Scott—I can easily imagine sitting in the mall by the skating rink drinking coffee with both of them. Probably guarding my food from Scott.

Q: It’s cool how our characters become so familiar to us. Blending romance and mystery in Mocha, Moonlight and Murder, how did you approach the pacing and unique flavors of each genre so that they would complement each other?

A: “They” say write what you like to read. I like romance, but not too graphic, and I really enjoy reading a good mystery. I like books that are fast paced, so I tried not to let too many pages go by without something happening that moves the story along, either with suspense, romance, or humor. I wanted a nice balance of romance and mystery. Though I think it’s more romance than mystery, my readers have said they love the mystery element and the unexpected ending.

Q: Yes, and they also say write what you know. You set the story in Reno, Nevada, where you spent many of your teen years. How did having that shared background help ground the story, when you were building up that world?

A: Oh, the park and the malls, the casinos, etc… are all real. These are places I went to, for instance, Virginia Lake. I used to live just a few blocks from there. Knowing the city so well, made it easier to write about places the main characters visited. When Katherine and Scott go somewhere, I can picture the location in my head—because I went there, too.

Q: I’m sure that kind of detail would come through. On your blog you shared a photo of your workspace. Please share with us your writing process and routine.

A: My youngest daughter, 13, leaves for school at 8:30. After she’s gone I usually go bike riding about 4 miles for exercise. I love doing this because I plan out in my head different scenes that need tweaking, or need to be written. When I get home, I clean up, get myself a large coffee and sit at the computer. J I don’t necessarily write, though. I surf, Facebook and my email. I stall. Finally, I open my current work in progress and start writing. Some days, I write a little, other days a lot.

Q: It’s interesting to learn the different ways people write best. Why do you write?

A: There is such satisfaction when you’ve written a scene that works, or dialogue that rings true. Writing is hard work, but on a good day—when the words are flowing—it’s the best feeling in the world.

Q: Yes, and writing is just one part of the whole process involved in bringing a book into the world. You published Mocha, Moonlight and Murder through Booktrope. What was the most challenging aspect of this process, and what has been the most rewarding so far?

A: The most challenging? Having patience. Everything in publishing seems to move along at a snail’s pace. For instance, I didn’t hear back from Booktrope until eight months after the book had been submitted. So, if you’ve written a book, just know that nothing happens overnight.

The most rewarding? The expression on my daughter’s face the first time I showed her a hard copy of my book. I dedicated my book to both her and my son. My family has given 100% support for my writing dreams since I first starting writing Mocha.

Q: It’s wonderful when you have family like that. You mentioned on your website bio that Jane Austen and Agatha Christie are among your favorite authors. What draws you to their stories?

A: I love the witty banter that Jane Austen wrote between her characters. I tried to recreate that between the characters in my book. Regarding Agatha Christie, well she’s the queen of the mystery novel. Her books are still selling well. Her characters are always interesting, and she keeps the reader guessing, without being too tricky. I love her Hercule Poirot books.

Q: Mystery and romance usually have strong character stories, and frequently are series books, so your blend seems well matched for the stories you admire and look to write. You have a sequel to Mocha, Moonlight and Murder planned. What else is next on your plate?

A: Book three, of course!

Q: As a new author, what do you know now that you wish you had known at the outset of writing your book?

A: Oh wow, great question. I wish I’d done more research. I tell people who ask: go to the library or the bookstore and pick up some books on how to write in the genre of your choice. Also, how to write the beginning, middle, and end. Sure, you can just sit down and start writing, but if you educate yourself a little first, it will save time in the long run.

Q: Good advice, thank you. Where can readers find you?

A: I have a website: http://mkempher.com and I’m on Twitter, @maryannkempher, but I’m really most active on my author Facebook page and always welcome reader comments: https://www.facebook.com/AuthorMaryAnnKempher?ref=hl

 Q: Is there anything else you would like to say?

If you’re a reader, be nice. Even the books you don’t like are some author’s “baby”.  If you’re a writer, hang in there, trust your instincts, and don’t settle.

 

 

Alfred Hitchcock’s MovieMaking Master Class

Hitchcock

Sir Alfred Joseph Hitchcock may have left the building over 30 years ago but author Tony Lee Moral puts the legendary director/producer’s expertise at every reader’s fingertips in his new book, Alfred Hitchcock’s Moviemaking Master Class. Moral’s admiration for his subject matter is no secret; this is, after all, the third book he has penned about the iconic Master of Suspense.

The amount of detailed research he has done is well evidenced and covers a career that spanned an enviable six decades. (Even though the book doesn’t come with a soundtrack, I’ve been unable to shake the TV show’s theme music out of my head ever since I finished reading it; during the late 50’s, Alfred Hitchcock Presents was one of the few shows I was allowed to stay up late and watch.)

Interviewer: Christina Hamlett

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Q: When did the writing bug first bite you?

A: From a very early age, I’ve been writing ever since I started reading. I loved adventure stories as a child, particularly the Alfred Hitchcock Presents series, such as The Three Investigators, and the Willard Price books. As a teenager, I wrote many short stories, and by the age of 16, had written my first novel (unpublished). Since then, I’ve written three non-fiction books and four novels. 

Q: How about the desire to become a producer/director?

A: Along with my interest in writing, I’ve always been interested in film, and first discovered Alfred Hitchcock at the age of 10 when I saw I Confess. I loved the moral dilemma faced by Montgomery Clift in the lead role and even at that age could recognize Hitchcock’s craftsmanship in storytelling. At college, I really immersed myself in Hitchcock’s Films. My first job after college was working for the BBC where I spent many years working myself up to being a Producer/Director. I’ve now been working in television for half my life and all my professional life.

Q: In addition to Hitchcock (obviously), who were some of the filmmakers that you would say had the most influence on the development of your own vision and style?

A: I would say Ingmar Bergman, Anthony Minghella, Yasujuri Ozu and Quentin Tarantino have been inspirational to me after Hitchcock. Some of my favourite films are Persona, The English Patient, Tokyo Story and Pulp Fiction.

Q: Inquiring minds want to know: What inspired you to write not just one but three books about Alfred Hitchcock?

A: Hitchcock’s films span the history of cinema, so for me, Hitchcock is cinema. After I wrote my first book on the making of Marnie, it seemed natural to follow it up with a book on the making of The Birds for the 50th anniversary this year. The Masterclass book came as an idea from MWP to encompass all of Hitchcock’s films and it’s very timely because the last year really has been the year of Hitchcock with all the biopics and Vertigo being voted number 1.

Q: What do you feel distinguishes Alfred Hitchcock’s Moviemaking Master Class from other books on the market that have been written about him?

A: It’s like a manual or text book on how to make a movie in the style of Alfred Hitchcock, using his principles of suspense, mystery, counterpoint, contrast and putting the audience through it. It’s not a biography – though you learn a lot about Hitchcock the director along the way – and it’s not an academic book – but I think it’s insightful because it’s told through the voice of Hitchcock and his many collaborators, with some great anecdotes.

Q: What was your favorite chapter to write?

A: Interviewing the actors who worked with Hitchcock for Chapter 4, as I was able to interview screen legendaries such as Kim Novak, Doris Day, Eva Marie Saint and Norman Lloyd. All wonderful and gracious human beings.

Q: Conversely, what was the most challenging section for you to pen?

A: I would say the first two chapters because it’s essential to hook and engage the reader so they want to keep on reading. I spent more time and effort on the opening chapters and rewrote them continually.

Q: Who were your favorite people to interview in the course of doing research?

A: I went to interview Norman Lloyd twice at his home in LA. He’s 98 years old, but very sharp and quick witted with an amazing memory. He truly is a classic and classy gentleman and as well as being an actor in Saboteur and Spellbound, he was a producer on the Alfred Hitchcock Presents series for 10 years.

Q: Hollywood has a propensity for cranking out prequels, sequels and remakes of successful films, and Hitchcock’s impressive body of work is no exception, In your opinion, what were the best and worst remakes of his most popular films? Which one has yet to be remade and who would comprise the dream cast to make it a success?

A: The worst remake was Gus Van Sant’s Psycho, because it’s foolhardy to replicate a classic even in the form of a homage, and the original cast is irreplaceable. I don’t think there is a best remake, but I’ll say Rear Window because of Christopher Reeves’ bravery to continue in film after his accident. I’d remake Strangers on a Train with Zachary Quinto and Henry Cavill in the lead roles.

Q: You’ve indicated that your appreciation of Hitchcock’s talent deepens every time you watch one of his films. What’s the latest thing you’ve discovered?

A: I recently interviewed the Assistant Director on Torn Curtain, one of Hitchcock’s lesser movies, who said that Hitchcock took great care to get realism in the reflection in the ship’s dining room window. I’ve never noticed that before which shows that even when working under less than full steam, Hitchcock paid attention to the smallest details.

Q: What’s your favorite Hitchcock movie?

A: I would say the definitive Hitchcock movie is North by Northwest because it has everything that you expect from his films, wit, polish, humour, panache, the wrongfully accused man, and Cary Grant’s star charisma and athleticism. My personal favourites are Vertigo and Marnie because of the psychology of the characters and what those films meant to Hitchcock.

Q: What’s your take on the way he was portrayed by Anthony Hopkins?

A: I enjoyed Hitchcock the movie, I thought it was a humorous and affectionate portrayal and I didn’t feel that the movie was mean spirited. Obviously there were dramatic licenses taken by the film, and Hitchcock is an enormously complicated character to define, but Hopkins brought sympathy and comedy to the role.

Q: If you could sit down for lunch with the late Master of Suspense, what question would you most like to ask him that could not have be answered by anyone who ever knew him?

A: I’m curious to why he was never able to repeat the success after Psycho. It seems that with that film’s monstrous success with the public and also financially, Hitchcock reached his creative peak and I’d like to know why he wasn’t able to top that.

Q: What’s your best advice to the next generation of screenwriters and filmmakers?

A: Know what the studios are looking for, watch a lot of films, develop your own voice, listen to people, work on distinctive dialogue. Nurture relationships as well as your talent. The best stories are out there and it’s all about finding them.

Q: What’s next on your plate?

A: My fourth (and probably final) Hitchcock book on his reputation and how he is perceived over 30 years since his death. This is going to be very interesting and revealing and I’ve already gathered many interviews from people who haven’t spoken out before.

Q: Anything else you’d like readers to know?

A: My steps to a Hitchcock education are watch The 39 Steps, Notorious, Rear Window, Vertigo, North by Northwest and Psycho.

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Tony Lee Moral is a writer and award winning documentary film maker who has written three books on Alfred Hitchcock: Alfred Hitchcock’s Movie Making Masterclass, The Making of Hitchcock’s The Birds and Hitchcock and the Making of Marnie. He has produced and directed over a 100 hours of television for major broadcasters in the US and the UK, including behind the scenes documentaries on films and television.

Brothers and Bones

B&B_ePub Hankins

Federal prosecutor Charlie Beckman’s life has his existence turned upside down when a deranged homeless man calls him by a secret nickname, one known by only one other person in the world…Charlie’s brother, who went missing 13 years ago. Such is the premise of James Hankins’ new suspense thriller, Brothers and Bones. Hankins recently took time from his busy schedule to chat about what it’s like to be a full-time writer and stay-at-home dad.

Interviewer: Christina Hamlett

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Q: Let’s start with what compelled you to make the transition from screenwriter and lawyer to working for yourself in the demanding role of “published author”.

A: Well, the transition from screenwriter to lawyer occurred because Hollywood was more reluctant to roll out the red carpet for me than I had hoped, and I had to start paying the bills. So I became a lawyer. I loved writing, had done it all my life, and I wasn’t about to stop simply because I’d started to practice law. But because I’d moved from L.A. to Boston, putting Hollywood thousands of miles behind me, I decided to shift from screenplays to novels. I became a lawyer by day, writer by night, and when my wife and I learned we were going to have twins, we decided that one of us should stay home with them. She’s a fantastic lawyer who has always wanted to be a lawyer, while I was a reasonably good lawyer who always wanted to write, so the choice was easy. I retired from the law two weeks before our boys were born to be a stay-at-home dad who writes books.  

Q: How did your prior employment prepare you to take this leap of faith, and were your expectations about the transition realistic?

A: My expectations were realistic because they weren’t terribly high. My hopes were always high, but my expectations were very reasonable. I’d spent years in Hollywood without making much of a dent in the place, after winning awards at one of the top film schools in the country, so I was well aware that achieving success in certain creative endeavors can be extraordinarily difficult. It’s almost freeing, to be honest, to be shooting so high that no one expects you to hit the target. There’s no pressure. If you succeed, it’s wonderful. But if you fail, everyone knows what a long shot it was anyway. It takes a lot of external pressure off. Of course, the internal pressure, the desire not only to tell my stories but to find someone willing to listen to them, never goes away. Thankfully, though, my reasonably low expectations have been exceeded by a comfortable margin. I’ve been very gratified by the reception my books have received.

Q: How do you budget your time to write amidst the distractions of hearth, home and the Internet?

A: I treat my writing like a job. I try to treat my domestic duties as one, too—at least with respect to household maintenance (hanging around with my sons doesn’t feel like a job). But I’m full-service stay-at-home dad. I do the laundry, shop for food, cook what I can manage, change light bulbs, take out the garbage, help with homework, etc. I try to do whatever chores need to be done in the first hour and a half after I drop the boys at school. Then I write until it’s time to pick them up again. That gives me four solid hours every school day. Sometimes I sneak in a little more later in the day while the boys are at a friend’s house, or at night when everyone else is asleep, or sometimes even on weekends. As for the Internet, it really can be distracting, can’t it?  It’s invaluable when it comes to marketing and social media, and it’s a powerful research tool (like when I needed to find out, when I was writing at 2 a.m., what constellations are visible in the night sky in Indiana in October). I just force myself to stay off of Youtube and limit social media interaction until my workday is over. (There’s plenty of time to watch videos of parakeets riding cats like horses later, with my kids.)

Q: Were you a voracious reader growing up? If so, who are the authors that resonated with you and perhaps even influenced your own writing style as an adult?

A: I was. I loved Richard Adams’s Watership Down. I read it as a kid and I’ve read it three or four times as an adult. It’s one of my all-time favorite books. I also loved Tolkien’s Lord of the Rings trilogy. I read the Narnia series, dozens of Tarzan of the Apes books and other Edgar Rice Burroughs adventure books, Ray Bradbury’s science fiction, Jack London’s books. I’m not sure their styles are reflected in my own, but I do see a pattern. I gravitated toward adventure stories, as so many children do, and I write thrillers today. My love for suspense and action is deep-rooted.

Q: What comes first for you – the plot or the characters?

A: I generally come up with the plot first. It starts with a small idea, a seed of a story, something that gets me thinking or wondering. When I have an idea of something interesting that could happen to someone, or an unusual situation a person could be thrust into, then I start to think about the kind of person who could impacted in the most interesting way by whatever that is. This probably comes from my screenwriting days, when story was always king, at least for the kinds of scripts I was writing. High concept stories that can grab you in a sentence. The hook for most thrillers can be boiled down to a sentence or two. That hook is usually what comes to me first, then I develop appropriate characters. That said, I work very hard on characterization, because the last thing I want is to write is a really interesting story populated by cardboard characters.

Q:  Tell us about Brothers and Bones, how it came about, and the influence that your previous career had on giving your protagonist a job as a federal prosecutor.

A: Brothers and Bones is about Charlie Beckham, a federal prosecutor who is on his way to court to start the biggest trial of his career when a deranged homeless man says two words to him that turn his world upside down. He calls Charlie by a nickname known by only one other person in the world—Charlie’s beloved older brother Jake, who went missing 13 years ago. Charlie has a hundred questions but loses the homeless man in a crowd before he can ask a single one. So begins his search for answers, a search that takes him into dangerous places and pits him against ruthless people. The book is a thriller, of course, but it’s also part mystery, part action, and at the core of it is an interesting “partnership” between a prosecutor and a homeless man who isn’t afraid to bend the laws as he needs to.

The seed that grew into the story was planted when I was a lawyer in Boston. I’d pass the same homeless man on the street every day, near the same street corner, and he was always talking to himself as though he were arguing with someone only he could see. He’d be very focused on whatever he was saying and to whomever he thought he was saying it. One day I wondered how strange it would be if, as I passed, he interrupted himself, looked up at me, and said – very clearly and lucidly – “Hi, James,” before resuming his argument with himself. It was an odd thought that I couldn’t shake. Then I thought it would be even stranger if what he called me was something secret, something he simply shouldn’t know. What would that be?  How could he know it?  These questions led to more until it was a mystery I wanted to solve.

I do think that my experience as a lawyer helped me write Brothers and Bones, at least a bit. Like my protagonist, I was a lawyer, but Charlie Beckham is a federal prosecutor while I was an employment lawyer—and those are two very different animals. But from my legal practice I knew what it was like to be a lawyer in Boston. I’ve been to court, and to the federal courthouse where Charlie works. I might have chosen to make Charlie a lawyer even if I hadn’t been one myself, but I’m certain that writing him was a little easier because I did practice law.

Q:  In Brothers and Bones, a defining moment in Charlie’s life took place when his brother, Jake, went missing many years ago. A strong sense of familial devotion is evident in the book – both in Charlie’s dedication to finding out what happened to Jake, and in Charlie’s memories of Jake’s sacrifices for Charlie as they grew up without parents. Does family play an important part in much of your writing?

A: It wasn’t something of which I’ve been conscious, but it’s evident that family has played an important role in my writing to date. As you note, Charlie and his brother had a very strong bond, one that drives the story to a very large degree. In my other books there’s an importance on family, too. In Jack of Spades, my police procedural, the detective is divorced, still in love with his wife, and frustrated that he’s growing apart from his college-age son. This is woven throughout the book. And my supernatural thriller, Drawn, is about four very different people, driven by different forces — some supernatural, some all-too-human – toward a shared destiny. But each of those four characters lacks family in any meaningful way, and they all seem to be searching for it in their own ways without even realizing it. As for me, I’m the last of six kids in a very close family, so I’m not surprised that familial bonds are important to my stories.

Q:  Brothers and Bones is actually one of three books that you released simultaneously. What challenges did you face releasing three at once that you don’t think you would have had publishing one at a time? 

A: The biggest challenge was that I couldn’t promote each book equally, at least not at first. It’s hard enough to get people to pay attention to a new author at all, much less get them interested in three books at once. If I split my focus I would have done none of the books justice. I realized that, instead, I’d have to focus on one book and hope that people would like it enough to buy my others. For the most part, that has worked for me. I chose to focus my efforts primarily on Brothers and Bones because, of the three, it probably has the quickest hook to grab a reader. I love my other books, but Drawn is a supernatural story, which has a smaller audience than straight thrillers, and Jack of Spades is a cop-chasing-a-serial-killer book, which is also a subset of the larger thriller category. I’ve been very pleased to learn from reader reviews many people finish Brothers and immediately buy my other books. Of course, there are also people who start with one of the others, then buy the remaining two. Either way works for me!

Q: If your favorite of these three titles were turned into a movie, who would your dream cast be?

A: I love this question because I never think about this. My wife does and she’s usually spot on with her casting choices. She reads my books and tells me who should star in the movies, and she’s usually right, but I never have anyone particular in mind when I write, though I can see my characters very clearly. I can’t really pick a favorite of my books – I love all of my “children” equally, if differently – but I’ll use Brothers and Bones because it’s the one that would be most likely to make it to the silver screen. For Charlie, the prosecutor, we’d need an early thirties lawyer with a sense of humor. I think Ryan Gosling would be terrific. Tougher casting would be the quirky homeless man who starts out a little deranged but slowly regains his faculties. He’s strange and tough as nails and in his mid-to late forties. Nicholas Cage, who makes really interesting performance choices, could do it well.

Q: Like many authors, you opted to go the self-publishing route on your titles. What drove this decision and what did you learn from the experience?

A: I’ve had a terrific agent for years but we were never able to find a fit for my books with a traditional publisher, despite positive feedback. With the explosion of self-publishing and ebooks, it became obvious that self-publishing was the way for me to go, as it has been for so many thriller writers who aren’t already established in print. Indie publishing seems to be the way that these books are getting out to the world. I’ve definitely learned a few things, but first and foremost is that the work never ends. When the book is finally written, the marketing begins. But all authors are expected to promote their books these days, not just indie authors (though mega-sellers often have access to marketing opportunities that indie authors don’t). But what I also realized is how much control self-published authors have over their work, from how it reads, to how the covers look, to pricing, etc. That’s something that I really like.

Q: What would you like readers to take away from your stories?

A: Other than a burning desire to make sure they’ve read all of my books?  I hope that I help readers escape – just for a while—to a new place, a new life. I want to give them a chance to walk around in someone else’s shoes for a bit, maybe to visit a place they’ve never been, to find themselves in a situation they’ve never experienced, to feel a few tingles up their spines, some excitement and thrills and a sense of mystery and discovery, as well as a sense of satisfaction that causes them, when they reach the end of the books, to say to themselves (and hopefully to all of their friends and family) that reading my books was a worthwhile way to spend their valuable time.

Q: What would your fans be the most surprised to learn about you?

A: I almost went with the fact that I can juggle knives (not well, but I can) or that I can recite Lewis Carroll’s wonderful poem of near-gibberish, “The Jabberwocky,” by heart…but I’m going to go with the fact that twenty years ago I got to kiss Dawn Wells (who played “Maryann” on Gilligan’s Island) on the cheek…mostly because I love to tell that story.

Q: What’s next on your plate?

A: Another thriller. It’s too early in the process to say more about it, but I’m working on another thriller. I’m always working on another thriller.

Q: Where can readers learn more about you and your work?

A: I hope people visit my website – www.jameshankinsbooks.com. There’s more about me and about my books there. They can sign up for my newsletter, which I send out on only very special occasions. They can also email me through my Contact page. I love hearing from readers. Also, I can be reached on Facebook at  http://www.facebook.com/JamesHankinsAuthorPage. And I’m on Goodreads at http://www.goodreads.com/author/show/6644088.James_Hankins.

Of course, most importantly, I’d love folks to check out my books. They’re on the major online retailers’ sites, but here are the Amazon links:

Brothers and Boneshttp://www.amazon.com/Brothers-and-Bones-ebook/dp/B009XGD2DY/ref=pd_sim_kstore_2

Drawnhttp://www.amazon.com/Drawn-ebook/dp/B009XGIHES/ref=pd_sim_kstore_3

Jack of Spadeshttp://www.amazon.com/Jack-of-Spades-ebook/dp/B009XGD6LM/ref=pd_sim_kstore_1

Finally, I want to thank You Read It Here First for this interview opportunity. It was a lot of fun. Happy reading, all!