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1. What led you into writing from your other fields of interest?
Writing is one of those things that, if you want to do it, I suggest don’t hesitate and delay. I did both for a long time and regret it. Even a few pages here and there will keep one from abandoning it. In my case, other, very important things in life crowded it out, but it was always there. So a few years ago I decided I couldn’t live with myself if I didn’t take the risks and jump in.
As for KNOLL, I’m with the majority of Americans that still believe JFK was murdered as the result of a conspiracy. Some things nag at you, itch until you have to scratch and open them so they can be treated and healed. For me, the itch was the assassination of JFK. It got worse as I pondered over the years how something that momentous, that public a spectacle, could remain obscure and unresolved. Growing up in Louisiana with friends whose fathers were “made men” in the Mob, my brother playing in the band at the club secretly owned by Mafia Kingpin Carlos Marcello, my father as night manager at the downtown Shreveport hotel where vice was part of the room service, all went into the soup. Teaching inmates at Rikers Island helped me understand how little ever gets known about murder. My career as practicing lawyer (including as a lobbyist in Washington, D.C.) helped me understand how things “off the record”, hidden from public view, can determine so much of what we call history. The healing balm was writing a story based in very substantial part on true facts, including references to Dalton Trumbo, the Academy Award-winning, blacklisted Hollywood screenwriter who first had the nerve to write a movie (Executive Action) about the assassination conspiracy. I wanted to explore how the mystery might (or might not) still be resolved in this twilight era of the last active JFK conspiracy activists. So all my other fields of interest contributed to this story.
2. How does writing compare to your previous work experience?
I confess, I treat writing much like a fascinating legal case or business project, with the same level of passion and discipline and attention to research that I would apply to an entrepreneurial investment or a legal case. I get “into” of all those and want to see each of them through. Inspiration and a creative muse are the fun part.
3. Who is Bus McIntyre?
Bus is me in an alternative universe. He has doubts, he struggles to get his bearings in a universe of errant stars and uncertain tides. He is driven to know that which is probably unknowable — in this case the truth behind the murders of his father and JFK. Yes, like Bus, I ride a Harley.
4. The plot for Knoll is very intriguing. Why did you choose this particular one?
Depending on your source, KNOLL is somewhere between the 4,000th and 40,000th book on JFK. It is, however, one of a relative short list of fictional treatments (including movies, comics, and songs) of those events. It is the only one set self-consciously in this moment where the “last of the JFK conspiracists” are fading away, perhaps sealing the fate of the matter as one of the great cold cases of history. It also recognizes that the case just might still be solved. If intelligence resources at the level that were applied to find Osama Bin Laden were applied to this case, plus a lucky break or two of new facts, the unravelling thread might well be pulled from the tapestry of mystery. That is the world into which the two key characters, Banner McCoy, the Millenial NSA fugitive, and Bus McIntyre, the Bilbo Baggins of the JFK Mystery, find themselves. Of course, there are forces out there, living and dead, that will fiercely protect those secrets.
5. Tell us about your experience in researching this book.
What great fun! Of course, the book is a work of fiction, and I have taken liberties in names, places and events. Behind those, I read much of the JFK literature, researched all the historical characters and places — Carlos Marcello, Elvis, Dalton Trumbo, Bossier City — and revisited all of the sites in the story.
6. What was the most enjoyable part in writing Knoll?
My favorites were writing the too-brief character of Banner McCoy, along with Bus’ journey on his bike to find the truth about himself and these murders, plus the final stalk in the canyon lands near Grand Junction, Colorado.
7. What was the most challenging?
Writing the too-brief character of young Banner McCoy. My kids helped me a lot with that. More important, Banner will be a key character in a sequel that takes all the events in KNOLL for a speed ride into a higher political dimension.
I began this trilogy July of last year (2016) and really enjoy Kristen’s debut book. It’s been a while since then and she has released the final two books already!! So needless to say, I’ve got some catching up to do. Check out the blurbs, reviews and views here about the Alpha Drive.
It’s the year 2055 and an anarchist organization has taken control with the aim to create a world-class society. Half of humankind is unknowingly living in an alternate reality called Dormance . . . and there are no plans to wake them up.
Sixteen-year-old introvert Emery Parker is one such dormant. An academic scholar who avoids ruffling feathers at all costs, Emery finds herself being transferred to a boarding school on the outskirts of Arizona. Little does she know, a family secret has the power to change the course of the future. When she’s approached with an opportunity to free the dormants, she sees no other choice but to accept, even though failure could mean having her memory wiped clean.
But when tech-savvy Torin Porter reaches out to her from the other side, Emery begins to question everything she was told about Dormance. If her family’s secret falls into the wrong hands, the world as she knows it will be faced with irreversible consequences. Now Emery must play both sides to uncover the truth about her family’s past or risk leaving mankind to live in an unconscious reality.
Kristen Martin knocks it out of the park with the first book in the Alpha Drive trilogy. It’s full of mysterious intrigue and kept me turning the pages until the very end. The concept, idea, premise and overall story is compelling and unique. Looking forward to reading the second installment: The Order of Omega.
Certainty is a fickle thing, and it doesn’t play nice. As her world crumbles around her, Emery Parker must continue on her journey to save those she loves—all while coming to terms with her past and the overwhelming power her family’s secret holds.
Emery’s choice to participate in The Alpha Drive initiative came with its risks and challenges—this she knew. But after confiding in Torin Porter and secretly working alongside the Seventh Sanctum, things have only become more unclear. As Emery fights to maintain control, the grey area between betrayal and allegiance grows larger, and the clarity she thought she had diminishes as the search for the truth develops in complexity. In a time of full-fledged uncertainty, Emery must fully embrace her past, even if doing so may mean losing everything—and everyone—she ever loved.
The world that Emery Parker grew up in no longer exists—she’d made sure of that. Adjusting to a new lifestyle is no easy feat, but Emery is more than ready to leave the past behind. With the promise of a fresh start and a new beginning, it is a place where she can finally let go of all her painful memories and replace them with better ones.
But Emery’s new reality is more unsettling than she ever could have imagined. The sustainability of this world is at risk, and it’s up to her to find the solution. To do this, she must follow her intuition and put aside any feelings of guilt and uncertainty, even if it means betraying someone close to her. Once again, Emery must search for new truths and question old ones at the expense of the ones she loves, all while facing conflicting choices about life, death, and love
Hello book lovers!! Here’s another one of my quirky topical concepts called Books and Blurbs to satisfy my creative needs. It amounts to everything related to books, authors, impressions, trilogies, to be read, or currently reading. So, the first book is….
This is the 4th book I’ve read (still reading) by this author. Cyberstorm, Nomad and Sanctuary were all awesome! Mather is a great author with a vivid imagination who really knows how to put it on the page.
The Atopia Chronicles, the first in the Atopia series, is a stunning read. The concept, technology, and futuristic use of virtual reality blew my socks off. Mather’s skill in this realm is truly original and unique. I can’t wait to finish and begin the second book, The Dystopia Chronicles (Atopia Series Book 2)
I often toggle between reading and listening so when I’m finished I’ll also do a review of the narrator and audiobook production.
What were your first memories of reading as a child?
My first memories of reading were my mom reading to me as a toddler. She worked with me and I was reading by the age of four. I read Gone with the Wind when I was twelve.
Thank God for Moms!
What were your favorite sleuths as a youth?
My favorite sleuth as a child was Trixie Belden. I had all the books in the series that were available in the 70’s.
Good ol’ Trixie Belden. I hear her name quite a bit.
What else do you enjoy in a story besides solving the crime?
Besides figuring out the “who did it” part of a story, I enjoy the interacting of the main characters.
YES. I love this too. The dynamics amongst characters brings out more depth, dialogue and conflict!
Name your favorite classical and modern sleuths.
I have no classical favorite sleuths; as far as modern sleuths, Lucas Davenport from John Sanford’s prey series.
Eh, I don’t have a favorite classical sleuth either. I’ll have to check out this Lucas Davenport character and see what he’s about.
How do they solve crimes and what makes them different from one another?
Both classical and modern solve cases by talking to witnesses and listening to their hunches. Modern sleuths have the advantages of modern technology, dna bases, fbi profiles, gps tracking, cell phone records, etc.
I love seeing how things have progressed over the years. Of course, the main staples don’t change!
Name some recent suspense books you’ve read.
I recently read Triple Six by Erica Spindler and I re-read all of Tess Gerritson’s Rizzoli and Isle series of books over the past couple of months.
Thanks for the recommendations! Gotta love em’.
Who are some of the best suspense writers?
Some of my favorite suspense authors are Erica Spindler, John Sanford, Lee Child, Tami Hoag
Lovely. I’ve never heard of Spindler or Tami Hoag, but that’s never stopped me from finding great authors!
If you could pick a character as the director of the FBI, who would it be?
I think the best choice for director of the FBI would be Benton Wesley, Dr. Kay Scarpetta’s husband, written by Patricia Cornwell.
Awesome! Great choice.
If you could marry a fictional character who would it be?
If I could marry a fictional character it would be Lucas Davenport from the prey series.
Hmm. This Davenport character must’ve really scored some points.
Name 3-5 pet peeves as a reader.
If the print isn’t right I won’t read it. I hate when a story drags too.
I can’t stand dragging stories either. Since I normally finish every book, I end up dragging right along with them. *Sigh*
*Who influenced your reading habits the most as a child?
My parents taught me to love reading. I was read to extensively by both parents. My father would put his rocking chair in front of my and my older sister’s bedroom doors, and we would go to sleep to the sound of his voice and the shushing of the rocker on the hardwood floor. We read the Narnia series, the Hobbit and Lord of the Rings, Watership Down, all the great books. The other big influence I had as a child was my paternal grandmother. Granny read mysteries and westerns, she got me into those genres.
I love that they taught you a *love* of reading. That says much more than just reading itself.
*Who were your childhood heroes?
Nancy Drew. Misty of Chicoteague and the two kids who own her. Lucy in The Lion, The Witch, and the Wardrobe. Outside the literary world, probably Carl Jung. My parents had a Jungian library for a while. It was the 70s.
Oh wow. Carl Jung. I’ve been enjoying his work too, among others. ENFP’s rock!! Everyone’s heroes are unique.
*What sort of books did you read as a teenager?
Mysteries – Tony Hillerman, Sue Grafton, I loved the Jean Auel Clan of the Cave Bear series. I read a lot of Sci-Fi – Robert Heinlein, Asimov, Anne McCaffrey.
Lovely. I like Sci-fi too. Haven’t read Sue Grafton yet, unfortunately.
*Any particular books that shaped you in this time period?
Watership Down was a big one. And The Hobbit. I use The Hobbit all the time when I teach story structure. Little House on the Prairie series, I wanted to be Laura Ingalls. Any book about horses, I’m still in love with them.
YES. I just listened to the Hobbit audiobook and it was wonderful. I got a better realization of the story this time around.
*How did you get into theater?
I dropped out of high school, so when I decided I was going back to school I had to start at a community college, because I didn’t qualify for a four-year. I started back, while working full-time as a bartender, and started with Spanish and Acting. Spanish because I’d need a language requirement and I’d been very good at it in high school. I grew up in San Diego, so there was a lot of Spanish spoken around me. I took Acting because I’d always thought it would be fun to try and I was easing into going back to school. I loved the acting class and went on to take every theater course Grossmont College offered, as well as working on a number of productions. I went on to get a theater minor at the University of San Diego, a M.Ed with an emphasis in teaching theater from UW-Tacoma, and a Ph.D. in dramatic theory and criticism from the University of Georgia. Throughout my educational years and beyond I continued to work professionally in theater and teach on the university level.
Very academic! I’d love to hear one of your classes!
*Name the core elements of a play, and what is its purpose?
This could be answered a number of ways. I’m going to go with dialogue, conflict, and universality. Dialogue, because despite the fact there is action in plays and we go to watch them, not just hear them, the basis of a play is the text written by the playwright, primarily in dialogue. Conflict, because without conflict there’s nothing to overcome, and if there’s nothing to overcome, there’s no tension or rising action or character development, and universality because it is through the specificity of a character or event that makes the experience of going to see theater universal. We have the opportunity to realize we often struggle through the same issues, regardless of race, ethnicity, politics, or religion. I can watch a play about a black family and feel it resonate with my own experiences, even though I’m white. I can watch a play about gay issues or struggles of faith, and while I’m straight and agnostic, I can still find common ground with the characters. It also creates the opportunity to recognize our own prejudices and hopefully become more accepting and compassionate.
Very interesting. I’ve actually only been to one play so I don’t anything about the subject. Thanks for sharing!
*How does the structure differ from a novel?
I would argue it really doesn’t, except there are no intermissions in a novel. I often hear people talk about “Three-act structure” – but as a playwright and novelist, I think novels are like One-Act plays, not Three-Act plays.
Interesting. I wish I could pick your brain more about this subject!
*Have you written any plays?
Several. I’ve been published and produced around the US, and parts of the UK and Canada.
Awesome. I wonder what happens next? Do you submit it to someone for casting?
*Name your top 5 favorite characters.
Bilbo Baggins from JRR Tolkien. Dorothy from the Wizard of Oz. Pryor from Angels in America. Bosch from Michael Connolly. Kinsey Millhone from Sue Grafton.
YES. Bilbo Baggins is a wonderful reluctant hero. LOVE Bosch.
*Did your taste in books change while in college?
Simplicity is bliss.
*If all the books were going to be burned, yet you had your choice of three, which would you select?
The Oxford English Dictionary, Stephen King’s On Writing, and Strunk and White’s Elements of Style. Then we could write new ones.
Oh wow. This is s fascinating choice indeed. Then writing new ones! You have the right kind of spirit!!
*If you could pick any fictional character for a sibling who would it be? Brother or sister.
Merlin the Magician. He would be an awesome brother. Though Gandalf would be a close second.
I can see you love magic! Personally I’d take Gandalf.
*Name your favorite modern authors and what you appreciate about them.
Dennis Lehane, he writes stand alones, a contemporary series, and historical, I love his breadth. Gillian Flynn for her strong, unique voice and proof women can write terrible people too. Blake Crouch, I can’t put it into words why his books enthrall me so, but I can’t put them down once I start them. Sue Grafton for her sheer tenacity and so many years of wonderful books.
Historical fiction is now one of my favorites. Not so familiar with the others. At least I haven’t read them yet. (Don’t hate me).
*What books would you like to recommend to us?
Ordinary Grace by William Kent Krueger, The Life We Bury by Allen Eskens, Friday Night Lights by H.G. Bissinger, Bury Your Dead by Louise Penny, Burial Rites by Hannah Kent, Water for Elephants by Sara Gruen.
Awesome. I’ve come across William Kent Kreuger. Thanks for the recommendations!
Title: Two Days Gone
Author: Randall Silvis
Publication Date: January 10, 2017
Publisher: Sourcebooks Landmark
Format: Trade Paper
Paperback: 400 pages
A January Indie Next Great Read
“…a suspenseful, literary thriller that will resonate with readers long after the book is finished. A terrific choice for Dennis Lehane fans.”—Library Journal, STARRED review
“Beneath the momentum of the investigation lies a pervasive sadness that will stick with you long after you’ve turned the last page.”—Kirkus Reviews
“…skillfully written thriller.”—Publishers Weekly
“…impressive novel…an intriguing thriller.”—Booklist
“…this novel [will] linger in readers’ minds well after Two Days Gone.”—Shelf Awareness
“Two Days Gone is a quiet, intense, suspenseful mystery about a man who has lost everything. Rich with descriptions and atmosphere….Two Days Gone is relentless in its suspense, and the final twists in the novel are sure to not disappoint.”— Foreword Review
“An absolute gem of literary suspense, pitting ordinary people in extraordinary circumstances and told in a smooth, assured, and often haunting voice, TWO DAYS GONE is a terrific read.”
—Michael Koryta, New York Times bestselling author of Those Who Wish Me Dead
The perfect family. The perfect house. The perfect life. All gone now.
Thomas Huston, a beloved professor and bestselling author, is something of a local hero in the small Pennsylvania college town where he lives and teaches. So when Huston’s wife and children are found brutally murdered in their home, the community reacts with shock and anger. Huston has also mysteriously disappeared, and suddenly, the town celebrity is suspect number one.
Sergeant Ryan DeMarco has secrets of his own, but he can’t believe that a man he admired, a man he had considered a friend, could be capable of such a crime. Hoping to glean clues about Huston’s mind-set, DeMarco delves into the professor’s notes on his novel-in-progress. Soon, DeMarco doesn’t know who to trust—and the more he uncovers about Huston’s secret life, the more treacherous his search becomes.
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About the Author:
Randall Silvis is the internationally acclaimed author of more than a dozen novels, one story collection, and one book of narrative nonfiction. His essays, articles, poems, and short stories have appeared in various online and print magazines. His work has been translated into ten languages. He lives in Pennsylvania.
Mr. Silvis is also a participating author in this year’s Mystery Thriller Week celebration along with 200+ authors from around the globe! Don’t miss out on all the fun. If you’re a fan, book lover, bibliophile, vlogger, blogger then definitely don’t want to miss this one.
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First Chapter Excerpt
The waters of Lake Wilhelm are dark and chilled. In some places, the lake is deep enough to swallow a house. In others, a body could lie just beneath the surface, tangled in the morass of weeds and water plants, and remain unseen, just another shadowy form, a captive feast for the catfish and crappie and the monster bass that will nibble away at it until the bones fall asunder and bury themselves in the silty floor.
In late October, the Arctic Express begins to whisper south- eastward across the Canadian plains, driving the surface of Lake Erie into white-tipped breakers that pound the first cold breaths of winter into northwestern Pennsylvania. From now until April, sunny days are few and the spume-strewn beaches of Presque Isle empty but for misanthropic stragglers, summer shops boarded shut, golf courses as still as cemeteries, marinas stripped to their bone work of bare,splintered boards. For the next six months, the air will be gray and pricked with rain or blasted with wind-driven snow. A season of surliness prevails.
Sergeant Ryan DeMarco of the Pennsylvania State Police, Troop D, Mercer County headquarters, has seen this season come and go too many times. He has seen the surliness descend into despair, the despair to acts of desperation, or, worse yet, to deliberately malicious acts, to behavior that shows no regard for the fragility of flesh, a contempt for all consequences.
He knows that on the dozen or so campuses between Erie and Pittsburgh, college students still young enough to envision a happy future will bundle up against the biting chill, but even their youth-ful souls will suffer the effects of this season of gray. By November, they will have grown annoyed with their roommates, exasperated with professors,and will miss home for the first time since September. Home is warm and bright and where the holidays are waiting. But here in Pennsylvania’s farthest northern reach, Lake Wilhelm stretches like a bony finger down a glacier-scoured valley, its waters dark with pine resin, its shores thick on all sides with two thousand acres of trees and brush and hanging vines, dense with damp shadows and nocturnal things, with bear and wildcat and coyote, with hawks that scream in the night.
In these woods too, or near them, a murderer now hides, a man gone mad in the blink of an eye.
The college students are anxious to go home now, home to Thanksgiving and Christmas and Hanukkah, to warmth and love and light. Home to where men so respected and adored do not suddenly butcher their families and escape into the woods.
The knowledge that there is a murderer in one’s midst will stagger any community, large or small. But when that murderer is one of your own,when you have trusted the education of your sons and daughters to him, when you have seen his smiling face in every bookstore in town, watched him chatting with Robin Roberts on Good Morning America, felt both pride and envy in his sudden acclaim, now your chest is always heavy and you cannot seem to catch your breath. Maybe you claimed, last spring, that you played high school football with Tom Huston. Maybe you dated him half a lifetime ago, tasted his kiss, felt the heave and tremor of your bodies as you lay in the lush green of the end zone one steamy August night when love was raw and new. Last spring, you were quick to claim an old intimacy with him, so eager to catch some of his sudden, shimmering light. Now you want only to huddle indoors. You sit and stare at the window, confused by your own pale reflection.
Now Claire O’Patchen Huston, one of the prettiest women in town,quietly elegant in a way no local woman could ever hope to be, lies on a table in a room at the Pennsylvania State Police forensics lab in Erie.There is the wide gape of a slash across her throat, an obscene slit that runs from the edge of her jawline to the opposite clavicle.
Thomas Jr., twelve years old, he with the quickest smile and the fastest feet in sixth grade, the boy who made all the high school coaches wet their lips in anticipation, shares the chilly room with his mother. The knife that took him in his sleep laid its path low across his throat, a quick, silencing sweep with an upward turn.
As for his sister, Alyssa, there are a few fourth grade girls who, a week ago, would have described her as a snob, but her best friends knew her as shy, uncertain yet of how to wear and carry and contain her burgeoning beauty. She appears to have sat up at the last instant, for the blood that spurted from her throat sprayed not only across the pillow, but also well below it, spilled down over her chest before she fell back onto her side. Did she understand the message of that gurgling gush of breath in her final moments of consciousness? Did she, as blood soaked into the faded pink flannel of her pajama shirt, lift her gaze to her father’s eyes as he leaned away from her bed?
And little David Ryan Huston, asleep on his back in his crib— what dreams danced through his toddler’s brain in its last quivers of sentience? Did his father first pause to listen to the susurrus breath?Did he calm himself with its sibilance? The blade on its initial thrust missed the toddler’s heart and slid along the still-soft sternum. The second thrust found the pulsing muscle and nearly sliced it in half.
The perfect family. The perfect house. The perfect life. All gone now.Snap your fingers five times, that’s how long it took. Five soft taps on the door. Five steel-edged scrapes across the tender flesh of night.
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