Author Mary Angela Introduces Passport to Murder

 

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Death never takes a holiday, but it certainly can take away one. Will Professor Prather find out who killed her Parisian plans before the end of spring break?

 

 

 

 

© Julie Prairie Photography 2016

 

 

About the Author

Mary Angela is the author of the Professor Prather academic mystery series, which has been called “enjoyable” and “clever” by Publishers Weekly. She is also an educator and has taught English and humanities at South Dakota’s public and private universities for over ten years. When Mary isn’t writing or teaching, she enjoys reading, traveling, and spending time with her family. For more information about Mary or the series, go to MaryAngelaBooks.com.

 

 

Book Blurb

Passport to Murder (Professor Prather Mystery #2)

 

Start with an unlucky number. Throw in a romantic location. Include a dashing Frenchman and an uncompromising professor. And you have all the ingredients for a passport to murder.

This semester, it seems that Professor Prather’s dreams are about to come true. Ever since she was a young girl, she’s imagined going to France, and her French colleague, André Duman, has finally made that trip possible. Over spring break, she and André are to lead a group of students and faculty to Paris to explore the City of Light. But before she can utter her first bonjour, a professor dies, and they are stuck in Minneapolis. She returns to Copper Bluff with an unstamped passport and a mystery to solve.
When André becomes the prime suspect, Emmeline puts her research skills to good use, determined to find out who really killed the professor and spoiled their spring break plans. With thirteen travelers assembled, the possibilities are varied and villainous. Luckily, her dear friend and sidekick, Lenny Jenkins, is close by. Together, they will sort through the conflicting clues even if it costs them time, trouble, or tenure.

 

 

 

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  1. What was your process for creating English professor Emmeline Prather?

I knew I wanted to set my series in a small college town in South Dakota, so I imagined a young professor relocating to the area. The landscape had to be a draw for my protagonist because the pay is definitely not. I like that she’s an outsider looking in. It heightens her awareness of the region.

 

 

 

 

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  1. What do you like about an amateur sleuth versus a professional one? 

I like that an amateur sleuth is not paid to solve crimes. It’s not her job, so she doesn’t have any police experience to help her. The amateur sleuth allows me, as a reader and a writer, to become intimately involved. I like to imagine what I would do in the same circumstances.

 

  1. What are some characteristics of Emmeline that help her solve crimes?

She is an excellent researcher, which helps her dig up information. She also has a degree in French literature, so she’s great at analyzing stories. Combined, these characteristics make her a tough sleuth to beat!

 

 

 

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  1. You affectionately call her “Em.” Describe your relationship to the protagonist. 

Em is so much fun, and I do think of her as Em as I’m writing. I enjoy writing her because she can be incredibly passionate when it comes to education, students, and crimes. Sometimes I get a chuckle out of her antics.

 

  1. What are the dynamics like between Emmeline and her sidekick Lenny Jenkins? 

There is a strong dynamic between Em and Lenny; they balance each other nicely. Em can take herself too seriously, and Lenny—doesn’t. They both challenge each other to see the world from another viewpoint, which is incredibly advantageous for crime fighting.

 

 

 

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  1. Describe some challenges writing Passport to Murder. 

Moving a group of thirteen characters was hard. I had to talk to the airport police in Minnesota and South Dakota. I also had to read about police procedures and what can and can’t be done when police investigate a suspicious death.

 

 

 

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  1. What did you learn while researching this book? 

I learned that the FBI has jurisdiction involving any crime committed in the air. I thought that was pretty interesting! I also learned that a plane can’t land on a full tank of gas.

 

 

 

Seriously, Just Ahead Green Road Sign Over Dramatic Sky, Clouds and Sunburst.

 

 

 

  1. Is it challenging writing a mystery? 

Yes, it is challenging, but that’s exactly what I like about the mystery genre. It works both sides of my brain. I spend lots of time making my characters and settings interesting, but I also spend an ample amount of time creating a clever and believable plot. All loose ends have to be tied up by the end of the novel. It takes great attention to detail.

 

 

 

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  1. Do you outline your novels? 

No, I don’t, but I do create a timeline and plot some events before writing them.

 

  1. Imagine yourself as Professor Emmeline.  Given the criminal circumstances, would you make the same choices as her? Why or why not?

That’s a tough one! I think I would. I might try to reveal the murderer in a less obvious way, but if I thought I could solve the crime, I would have to try, especially if it benefited my campus or friend.

 

 

 

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  1. Have you ever been to France? 

Yes, I have been to France and loved my time there. I would like to go back and spend the summer in a little French village. That’s my hobby: looking at vacation rentals in wine country. Maybe some day!

 

 

 

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  1. What’s next for you?

I’m writing book three in the series, A Very Merry Murder. It’s a holiday mystery, so I’ve been spending most of my days dreaming about baking sugar cookies and eating fudge. Not a good omen for the impending holidays!

 

 

 

Connect with Mary Angela

 

© Julie Prairie Photography 2016

 

 

Facebook | Twitter | Goodreads | Amazon | Maryangelabooks.com

 

 

 

Thanks for ridin the train folks! Come back and see us. Peace out.

 

 

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Benjamin Thomas

@thewritingtrain

www.mysterythrillerweek.com

 

 

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The Caitlin Strong Series with Author Jon Land

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Jon Land is the USA Today bestselling author of the 38 novels, including seven titles in the critically acclaimed Caitlin Strong series: Strong Enough to Die, Strong Justice, Strong at the Break, Strong Vengeance, Strong Rain Falling (winner of the 2014 International Book Award and 2013 USA Best Book Award for Mystery-Suspense) and Strong Darkness (winner of the 2014 USA Books Best Book Award and the 2015 International Book Award for Thriller). Caitlin Strong returns this October in Strong Light of Day, to be followed by Darkness Rising, his sci-fi collaboration with Heather Graham coming from Forge in June of 2016. Jon is a 1979 graduate of Brown University, lives in Providence, Rhode Island and can be found on the Web at jonlandbooks.com or on Twitter @jondland.

 

 

 

 

Tell us about the decision to write a thriller with a female lead. 

Well, confession time here, starting this series was as much a marketing decision as a creative one. I owe the whole concept to the head of mass market sales for Tor/Forge Publishing going back about a decade. At a meeting where we were discussing trends in publishing, he raised the point that thrillers were the most popular genre and 70% of books were bought by women. Yet nobody at the table could name a single female thriller hero. Mystery, yes. But a female Jack Reacher? Uh-uh. So then and there I piped in with “What about a female Texas Ranger?” And in that moment Caitlin was born.

 

 

 

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What do you appreciate about the Texas Rangers?

So many things! First and foremost, they are the most famous and legendary lawmen in American history. The only frontier body out of the Old West to still be around today—and not just around, they’re still operating pretty much as they always have. They’re still gunfighters by reputation, even if they never have draw their weapon. They still command the same respect they always have and have built wondrously on the folklore of their forebears. All those great stories of the likes of Bill McDonald, Jack Hayes, Frank Hamer, Manuel “Lone Wolf” Gonzaulles, and so many more. You see so many male thriller heroes who are ex Special Forces, Navy SEALs, or something like that. Since women can’t service in active duty for special ops, making Caitlin Strong a Texas Ranger was the next best thing.

 

 

 

 

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Did you do any travel related research?

You can never do enough. I get to Texas twice a year and base scenes on where I visit. So you’ll see a lot of Midland in STRONG LIGHT OF DAY, a lot of Houston in STRONG COLD DEAD, and a ton of Austin in STRONG TO THE BONE which comes out December 5. I’m a whiz when it comes to Google searches and, another confession, I write about a ton of places in Texas that I’ve never been to.

 

 

Strong Cold Dead

 

 

 
What’s your process with research? Is there a method to the madness?



That’s a great question because it comes down to process. The method to my madness is not really having a method. I don’t outline and am very spontaneous in my writing, figuring if I don’t know what’s going to happen next, the reader can’t possibly know. So I don’t necessarily know what research I need to do before I start a book. I’ll actually do the bulk of it in the midst of the writing. If I need to know something as specific as the kind of tree you might find a body under in Laramie. Or what that tree smells like. Or what diner Caitlin might in when she visits this town or that. Attention to detail is crucial but the real trick is knowing how much not to say so the reader is left with the impression that I’ve been there, mostly because I don’t give them enough to figure out that I haven’t.

 

 

 

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How do you view Caitlin Strong among all the characters you’ve created over the years?

Easily the best and most fun I’ve ever written. I have so much faith in all of them, meaning I let them do the heavy lifting when it comes to figuring out the plot—or, better stated, my characters are also my collaborators. The reason I can take the risk of being so spontaneous, of literally not knowing exactly where I’m going or how I’m going to get there, is because I trust my character can sketch out the roadmap for me. They write their own dialogue, they make their own decisions, they make their own mistakes. Some of the best scenes I’ve written in this series, I can’t even tell you where they came from.

 

 

 

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What are the stakes and do they affect Caitlin personally?

As far as STRONG TO THE BONE goes, it’s the most personal of any book in the series because we learn for the first time that Caitlin was raped 18 years before when she was in college. The man was never caught. He just disappeared. And now he’s back, his DNA showing up in another victim of sexual assault. So Caitlin, all grown up and a Texas Ranger now, has a chance to slay her greatest dragon. Which brings us to the question of whether she really wants to, because she’s afraid catching him will strip her of the edge that defines who she is. As you can see, there are often aren’t easy answers in this series!

 

 

 

Strong to the Bone

 

 
Is it difficult writing a female lead?



Not really, because she’s so real to me, as are all of my characters. I’ve written serial killers and terrorists, when I’m not either of those. I’ve written Israelis, Palestinians, teenagers, along with blind, deaf and people suffering from other disabilities. And I’m none of those things either. Well, breaking news, you can add to that list the fat that I’m not a woman. Storytelling springs not from the conscious mind but from the imagination, where anything is possible. The key to being a great storyteller is to able to recapture the magic of role playing that children do. I think that’s why so many love books as a adults: because it makes them feel like kids again, the way I feel when I’m writing.

 

 

 

 

“Storytelling springs not from the conscious mind but from the imagination, where anything is possible.”–Jon Land

 

 

 
How have readers responded to her thus far?



Beyond anything I ever could have imagined. She doesn’t have the sales of the Jack Reacher books, but I honestly believe she compares very favorably to Lee Child’s iconic hero. The thing about those books, and the ones featuring Caitlin, is they’re both essentially modern day Westerns. The storytelling, at its heart, is very basic: Somebody good willing to do anything it takes to stop somebody bad from doing something really wrong. That’s the crucial element of this series and any great thriller, as well as why readers have responded to Caitlin as positively as they have: she isn’t just about solving crimes, she’s about preventing something much worse from happening. That’s what makes a true hero.

 

 

 

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Connect with Jon Land

Twitter | Facebook | Goodreads | Website | Amazon

 

 

 

 

Don’t miss Mystery Thriller Week 2018!

 

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Benjamin Thomas

@thewritingtrain

www.mysterythrillerweek.com

Chatting Books and Writing with Author Deborah Raney

 

Deborah Raney

 

 

DEBORAH RANEY’s first novel, A Vow to Cherish, inspired the World Wide Pictures film of the same title and launched Deb’s writing career. Twenty years, thirty books, and numerous awards later, she’s still creating stories that touch hearts and lives. She and husband, Ken, traded small-town life in Kansas for life in the friendly city of Wichita. They love traveling to visit four grown children and a growing brood of grandchildren who all live much too far away. Find out more about Deb’s newest release—Home at Last, the fifth and final novel in her award-winning Chicory Inn Novels series—at her website: www.deborahraney.com

 

 

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Looking back, who influenced you the most to read books?

First of all, my mother. Not only did she set a great example by being an avid reader herself, but we loved sharing books and talking about books, and even reading to each other—not just when I was a child, but even after I was grown and living away from home. In a roundabout way, my kids influenced me to read as well, because I always wanted to be aware of what they were reading in school or in their leisure time. And my husband gets a shout-out for never making me feel guilty while I was engrossed in a novel—even if it meant supper was late…or burned! :}

That sounds like a wonderful surrounding to be in! 



Kids Reading Books




Which books or characters had the most impact, and why?

The summer I turned twelve and read the entire Little House on the Prairie series by Laura Ingalls Wilder, was the year I knew I wanted to grow up to be a writer, so definitely her characters had a great impact on me. I also read Catherine Marshall’s novels, Christy and Julie around that same time and was deeply impacted by the messages of those books. Messages about being strong, living life in a way to make a difference in others’ lives, and holding tight to faith in God, even when it seemed He was silent.

 It’s amazing how much influence a simple story can have on an individual. 



Hand with marker writing: Words Have Power


If you could write one character into your life from your books who would it be?

Audrey Whitman, from my five Chicory Inn novels, would be an inspiring friend for me. She’s far more energetic and driven than I am, but I think she would inspire me (or already has!) to make the most of the gifts I’ve been given. So many of my characters are patterned after people I actually know (or are amalgamations of several people) that I feel in some ways my characters ARE “written into” my life!

 That’s so awesome 🙂





What’s your creative process for characters?

Being a very visual writer, I always have to have a photo of each character before they really begin to come to life. After that, I just sort of follow them through the story (I’m sure that sounds a little woo-woo to anyone who isn’t a writer) and see where they lead me, and how they grow and change through the story. Often, I get to the middle of a book and realize that the character I wrote in the first few chapters doesn’t resemble the character that has developed toward the end, so I spend some time rewriting him or her to match the “person” they’ve become in my novel. It’s rather a backwards way of doing things, but it works for me.

That’s a very interesting approach. As long as it works for you, that’s all that matters. I’m still trying to figure out what my mine is. 



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Did you read a lot when you were raising kids?

My husband and I are both avid readers and placed a high priority on story time and books when our kids were growing up. For instance, our rule was that toys and games had to be put away at bedtime, but as long as it didn’t interfere with homework or grades, you could read until midnight if you wanted. We read to each of our four kids from the time they were infants, and they’re all readers to varying degrees today.

 Oh, I love this. A book reading family! The emphasis on reading is very fascinating. 

 



Name some pet peeves, or things that bother you as a reader.

• It drives me nuts when the character on the cover of a novel doesn’t match the description inside.

• I don’t like it when two characters can’t stand each other through most of the book, and then fall into each other’s arms madly in love in the final chapter. Um…no.

• I prefer—as a reader and a writer—fewer speaker attributions (he said/she said). I’d rather SEE what the characters are doing and hear the tone in their words or actions than be told they said a line “quietly” or “angrily.”

 I love seeing the answer to this question. All are valid points worthy of remembrance. 

 


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How do you determine what motivates a character?

As my story begins to unfold, I always have to ask myself what each character has to lose and to gain if the plot goes one way or another. Sometimes those questions aren’t answered until much later in the book, and again, I have to go back and rewrite to bolster my discovery about motivation. I always try to have a positive motivation (because it’s the right thing to do or because she/he loves someone and wants the best for them) along with negative motivation (because selfishly, doing the right thing will cost her/him or because pride keeps her/him from doing the right thing.)

 Great! This will help me determine more of my own character motivations, thank you.



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Describe your intuitive approach to writing as opposed to outlining.

I’ve touched on this, but being an intuitive writer means that while others are still outlining and figuring out their plot, I’m barreling ahead with a story I don’t even know fully yet. So often that means I write myself into a corner and have to delete 2 chapters and start over. It’s frustrating, and yet it works for me. Those chapters I throw away likely didn’t take me any longer to write than the outline process took a plotting writer. It’s just the way my mind works best.

 I find that so interesting, probably because I’m more of an intuitive writer than a plotter. Perhaps somewhere in between.

 



Have you ever wept while reading?

Oh, my goodness! If a book doesn’t make me cry (or laugh or cheer or get angry) I’m not sure it’s worth reading! When I’m reading, I want to feel all the feels. And if I don’t feel them when I’m writing a book, I know my readers won’t feel them either. It’s usually in the rewrite process that I begin to be objective enough to read/edit my work and see things more clearly, more like my readers will. When I cry over my characters then, I know my readers probably will too. And that makes me happy! 🙂

 That’s wonderful. That’s what it’s all about it, right? Having that emotional response is key. 

 


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Name some of the best books you’ve read recently.

• The Memory of You by Catherine West

• Long Way Gone by Charles Martin

• To Wager Her Heart by Tamera Alexander

• The Village that Slept by Monique Peyrouton de Ladebat (translated from French)

 Thanks!




What’s next for you?

I’m writing a novel set in Winterset, Iowa, home of the covered bridges of Madison County. This will be the first all-new novel published by the small press my husband created to re-release about twenty of my backlist titles, formerly published by Howard/Simon & Schuster, WaterBrook Press/Random House, Steeple Hill/Harlequin, and Bethany House/Baker. That novel will release next spring about the same time my first book in a new three-book series for Gilead Publishers is due on my editor’s desk. That series, The Chandler Sisters Novels, opens with Reason to Breathe. After writing five books in my Chicory Inn Novels series, I’m excited to be playing with all new characters and settings.

 Wonderful. That sounds like great idea. Especially since you get to team up with your spouse.



A Nest of Sparrows

Because of the Rain

Insight


The Face of the Earth

Almost Forever


DEBORAH RANEY’s first novel, A Vow to Cherish, inspired the World Wide Pictures film of the same title and launched Deb’s writing career. Twenty years, thirty books, and numerous awards later, she’s still creating stories that touch hearts and lives. She and husband, Ken, traded small-town life in Kansas for life in the friendly city of Wichita. They love traveling to visit four grown children and a growing brood of grandchildren who all live much too far away. Find out more about Deb’s newest release—Home at Last, the fifth and final novel in her award-winning Chicory Inn Novels series—at her website: www.deborahraney.com

 




CONNECT WITH DEBORAH RANEY

Amazon | Goodreads | Twitter | Website

 

 

 

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Enjoy Mystery and Thrillers? Come join us for Mystery Thriller Week Feb. 12-22nd 2018. Check out more info:  About MTW

 

 

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Benjamin Thomas

@thewritingtrain

http://www.mysterythrillerweek.com

Between the Shadow and Lo by Lauren Sapala

 

Lauren Sapala

 

 

PLEASE WELCOME LAUREN SAPALA 

 

Lauren Sapala is a writing coach who specializes in coaching introverted, intuitive writers. She founded the WriteCity writing groups in Seattle and San Francisco and currently blogs about writing and creativity at www.laurensapala.com.

 

 

My fellow creative friend on the east coast just released another book August 29, 2017. Check it out!

 

 

Between the Shadow and LO

 

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BOOK BLURB

“A voice that was strong and cruel came from somewhere deep within me. When the voice split away and talked to me all by itself I started calling her Lo…She’d watched me at my lowest points and saved up a thousand slights, a million minor offenses. She forgave nothing, and now she wanted revenge.”

Leah is an alcoholic. She’s antisocial, self-destructive, and deeply damaged. She’s also battling a voice in her head she calls Lo, who wants to take over her body. Lo is everything Leah isn’t—beautiful, charming, confident, and ruthless in her desires.  She commandeers Leah’s will whenever Leah gets too drunk, and acts as her escort through the rainy Seattle underworld.

As a misfit bibliophile, Leah’s conception of reality has never been rock solid, but as she spirals deeper into addiction the “real world” of bars, bikers, dealers, and addicts slowly dissolves into Lo’s dark vision. As Lo steadily tightens her hold, Leah prepares to make one last bid for survival, knowing her only chance is to transcend Lo’s terrifying drive toward death.

 

 

 

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In the beginning you addressed this book to your Uncle John. Who was he to you, and what impact did he have on your life?

My Uncle John is my dad’s identical twin brother. One of the issues I explore in the book is the death of my younger brother, which occurred when he was six years old and I was eight. My younger brother battled leukemia for three years before his death and my Uncle John was the one who drove us to his chemotherapy appointments two hours away, each month. My uncle had a bad hip, so being in the car for long periods of time like this wasn’t ideal. But he did it anyway. I have always carried that memory of my uncle soldiering on through the physical and emotional difficulty of ferrying us back and forth to those appointments. I watched his example and learned from it. That’s why I say in the dedication that he taught me that “the only way out is through.” It’s a well known saying that means, “the only way to get through it is to get through it.” My Uncle John always got through things, he didn’t run away from them. This is a lesson that the narrator of the book, Leah, needs to learn.

 

 

 

*What does the “shadow” represent from the title of your book?

The “shadow” refers to the shadow self, that psychological dark side that exists in each of us, but normally remains buried in the subconscious. The narrator, Leah, is a normally introverted, bookish type of person who doesn’t know how to express her true self, or how to express her real needs. When she gets drunk, her shadow self comes roaring to the surface, the wildly extroverted, aggressive, domineering personality who has absolutely no awareness of anyone else’s needs other than her own.

For those who are interested in MBTI, I’m an INFJ personality type, so my shadow side is an ESTP. However, because our shadow side usually stays hidden in our subconscious, it also stays relatively undeveloped. A personality expert I love said that using your conscious side is like signing your name with your dominant hand—it’s smooth and fluid from using it so much. But using your shadow side is like trying to sign your name with your left foot—everything comes out distorted and barely recognizable because that part of you hardly ever sees the light of day.

When Leah gets drunk she goes into her shadow side and becomes Lo and, consequently, everything in her comes out as distorted and barely recognizable. It’s definitely a Jekyll-and-Hyde type of situation.

 

 

 

 

Shadow

 

 

 

 

*What does the “Lo” represent? 

Lo is the personality that Leah, the narrator of the book, becomes when she gets drunk. I was an alcoholic for many years and this book is based on my experiences during that time. To this day, I’m fascinated by the personality changes that people undergo due to addiction. It’s quite common to hear people say that a family member is the most loving, compassionate person when sober, but when they’re drunk or high it’s the complete opposite. And of course, people do things when intoxicated that they would never do sober, like lie, cheat, and steal. I find this so intriguing and so I wanted to explore how that process worked for me when I was an active alcoholic.

I also believe that, as a society, we use a lot of different addictions to lower consciousness on a regular basis— that is, to make ourselves less alert, less empathetic, less compassionate, less emotionally sensitive. Alcohol and drugs are obvious choices, but we also use things like shopping, sex, the internet, gossip, an oversaturation of news and media, exercise, and food. In my book, Leah is just one extreme example of someone who systematically and purposefully tries to lower her consciousness whenever she can (through alcohol) because she doesn’t want to deal with her emotionally painful past, or her energetically sensitive present.

 

 

 

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*There are two very interesting quotes at the front of the book. Can you describe what they mean to you?

The first quote actually comes from one of my clients, a writer named Ritu Kaushal. She has a blog called Walking through Transitions (http://www.walkingthroughtransitions.com) which is just fantastic. I was reading some of her work and stumbled across that quote from her and it hit me like a bolt of lightning. Especially the last few lines:

Maybe, that’s what hurt does. It cuts us into different people. There are some parts with their gaping holes that break off from the core, and then they roam inside us, reminding us of our own poverty.

I thought, “Yes! Ah-ha! That’s EXACTLY the way I felt during all those dark years when I was drinking!” Ritu very graciously let me use the quote from her and I am so grateful because it’s just perfect.

The second quote is from Jean Genet:

Worse than not realizing the dreams of your youth, would be to have been young and never dreamed at all.

He’s one of my very favorite writers, and that quote from him sums up how I felt about those years. They were dark and difficult, but I’m so glad they happened and I wouldn’t trade them for anything. As painful as that time was, I still saw it all through my writer’s imagination (my “dreaming eyes”) and I treasure those experiences.

 

 

 

 

Dreaming eyes

 

 

 

 

*After suffering some hardship you turned to books. What led you in that direction?

Oh, I’ve always been a book nut. In fact, that was something I really wanted to emphasize in this memoir/novel. Because of some painful experiences in her childhood, Leah has a lot of trouble connecting with people. She feels separate from everyone all the time. One of the main ways she relates to the world and figures out how to navigate life is through books. For example, there’s one instance in the book where Leah meets this couple who run a nightclub together. She immediately compares them to characters out of a Fitzgerald novel and wonders to herself if she should “plan” to feel about them the same way she felt about those characters. This is extremely dysfunctional—but that’s actually how I was at that time. I had no idea how to even have spontaneous emotions toward people because I was so guarded and shut down. So, I often categorized people as characters from books I had read, and then treated them accordingly.

Leah (who is obviously me as a character) does this all through the novel too. She becomes involved with a guy who reminds her of Prince Myshkin from Dostoyevsky’s The Idiot and so she instantly puts herself in the role of the tragic female character of that novel to support that fantasy. At the end of the book Leah flees her disastrous life in Seattle to start over in San Francisco, and the only way she can process that decision is by comparing herself to Anna Karenina jumping in front of the train. You’ll see this over and over again throughout the book. Leah is so frightened by “real life” that the only way she can interpret her experience of it is through story.

 

 

 

 

The Idiot

 

 

 

 

*What were some challenges writing this book.

Um, wow. I could write ten pages on this. Well, the first draft took me over two years to write. It came out to about 800 pages, and it then took me another nine years to cut and rewrite and revise. I probably rewrote the whole book at least five times. Putting it all together structurally was kind of a nightmare.

Beyond the actual process of writing it, the book contains really, really personal stuff. And a lot of it is super embarrassing. I detail incidents in that book that I hadn’t told my closest friends about. There are sections that are sexually explicit, and other sections that are incredibly emotionally intimate. I was terrified of what people would think of me.

I resolved to bury the manuscript in the backyard and never think about it again at least 20 times. And then I finally published it.

 

 

 

 

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*Name the rewards of writing it.

Ha, I could write ten pages about this too! Well, first of all I felt a huge sense of relief once it was out of my desk drawer and into the world. I do believe that releasing your work into the world is the essential last step in the creative cycle for any writer. If you have a ton of work stuffed away that no one has ever seen, it’s just as mentally unhealthy as it would be if you were a hoarder and living in a house stuffed with piles of newspapers.

Second of all, I made the most unlikely and unexpected connections through the book. Readers messaged me on Facebook and emailed me directly to tell me how strongly the book resonated with them. All the stuff that I was so embarrassed about and was cringing over…well, they loved it. They told me they thought it was hilarious or beautiful or just awesome. That was a really, really cool thing for me to see, that I’m not the only one that’s gone through dark times.

 

 

 

 

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*What is the message you want others to walk away with?

I want others to read this book and know that they don’t have to hide themselves. It’s okay if you have or are currently struggling with addiction, or low self-worth, or messed up stuff from your past. Other people are going through it too. We’re all human and none of us are alone in this. I also hope that people are just plain entertained by the book. Readers have told me that they read it all in one night because they just couldn’t keep from going on to the next chapter, and then the next. I think that’s something every writer wants to hear, that the book you wrote was just actually a lot of fun for people to read.

 

 

 

*Hindsight is 20/20. Put on your hindsight glasses and write a letter to your younger self. What would the letter say? What would you say to Lo?

Well, after living with her myself, I can honestly say there is no telling Lo anything. She is completely ego-based and runs entirely on fear. That’s her role in this life and that’s cool. But I would tell Leah that everything is going to work out, and that everything she’s living through is going to be in a book someday. I think that would have made her very happy.

 

 

 

 

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Connect with Lauren

Twitter | Facebook | Amazon | Goodreads | Website

 

Don’t miss out on Lauren’s other book, The INFJ Writer

 

INFJ writer

 

Amazon | Goodreads

 

 

 

THANKS FOR JOINING US ON THE WRITING TRAIN

 

Train

 

 

 

Benjamin Thomas

@thewritingtrain

Mystery Thriller Week 2018

 

 

 

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Author Interview with Kathleen Doler

Kathleen doler

 

 

Please welcome Kathleen Doler! She’s the skilled author of THE HOOK, a readers favorite book award winner, and NIEA finalist. She’s also an adventure sports addict with extensive experience in journalism, writing and editing copy all over the globe.

 

 

 

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1. How does it feel to write your first book?

It’s an outstanding feeling of accomplishment. Sometimes I pick up THE HOOK and read a couple of passages, and it’s almost surreal…I think to myself, “Wow, I actually wrote this!” Of course, my next thought, is stop patting yourself on the back and move on. Put some words on paper, you sloth.

 

 

 

 

sloth

 

 

 

 

2. How does fiction writing compare with adventure sports?

Sitting in my desk chair isn’t very active. But it does enable me to analyze my adventure sports addiction and what drives my fascination with dangerous sports. And when I’m writing about one of those sports it’s like dreaming about surfing or diving (which I often do); I get the same rush.

 

 

Pretty traveler woman with backpack

 

 

 

3. Do you channel a sense of adventure into your writing?

Absolutely. THE HOOK includes surfing, windsurfing, scuba diving, sailing, stand-up paddling and travel. Adventure sports are an important component and backdrop of the story, even though it’s a literary and suspense novel, and that’s intentional. Very few novels feature women athletes. Very few authors write for active and adventuresome women. “Wild” by Cheryl Strayed was a huge hit, but where are the novels that would appeal to “Wild’s” millions of readers? I believe THE HOOK is one, and I want to write more of them.

 

 

 

 

“You fail only if you stop writing.” Ray Bradbury

 

 

 

 

4. Who is Dana and what motivates her?

Dana is a professionally successful journalist and a hard-core athlete, who’s tough but damaged by her traumatic childhood. She has trouble with relationships, and she has little time for them. Additionally, she isn’t willing to play the traditional dating game. She’s very independent, and yet she’s also lonely. Intensely loyal to her brother and her close friends, she’s on her guard with everyone else.

 

 

 

Motivation Concept - Red Target.

 

 

 

 

5. What’s the bond like between Dana and her brother Shane?

Their bond is almost like twins — each one can feel, to a degree, what’s going on with the other one. Their chaotic childhood also binds them. But as much as Dana loves Shane, she sees him for who he is. He’s an addict and he’s mentally ill, just like their mother. He’ll never be truly stable.

 

 

 

“A brother is a friend given by Nature.”-Jean Baptiste Legouve

 

 

 

 

6. If Shane were your brother how would you help him?

Like Dana I would struggle to help him and yet not enable him. And with a brother like Shane, you must keep his struggles and dramas from eating your life. You step in when you have to…but sometimes when he’s at least semi-stable you stay away…though then you’re wracked with guilt.

 

 

 

 

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7. What kind of journalism is Dana involved with?

Dana is a business journalist for a large newspaper. She writes about economics. Because of continuing sexism in the business world, she goes up against the men in her job and her interviews. But she’s used to that because she’s forced to compete with men in the surf for waves. And she’s close to her brother and has many male friends, which helps her understand businessmen, their behavior and motivations.

 

 

 

Journalism

 

 

 

8. How do you relate to Dana personally?

I’m a lifelong adventure sports addict, and I’m a journalist. And because of that many of my closest friends are men. I also came from a very troubled family…part of the novel comes from my story. I know what it’s like to deal with a mentally ill and addicted sibling. You end up doing things others only watch on TV.

 

9. What’s the coastal town Half Moon Bay like?

It’s a foggy tourist town, a farm and fishing town and a telecommuter hub for Silicon Valley. In winter, huge surf hits at Mavericks, a HMB pro surfing contest site. In the first chapter, I describe Half Moon Bay this way: “On the drive, I note the changes to Half Moon Bay, more chain restaurants, more traffic. I miss how it used to be, a community of ruddy complexions and calloused hands, fishing and farming. Now it’s an outlying burb for Silicon Valley engineers, with their computers and their pallor, too many hours lit only by screens of code.”

 

10. What’s next for you?

I’m working on two projects. One is a nonfiction book about adventure sports and travel. It’s based on my adventures and will include previous writing I’ve done for a variety of publications, as well as new essays. I’m also working on my next novel. It will be a murder mystery, but will of course include adventure sports. And I’m still writing business articles (which help pay the bills), including executive biographies, company profiles and other assignments.

 

 

 

 

 

The Hook

 

 

Amazon | Goodreads

 

 

CONNECT WITH KATHLEEN

 

Kathleen Doler

Author of THE HOOK

Journalist, Adventure Sports Addict

kathleendoler@sbcglobal.net

www.kathleendoler.com

www.facebook.com/kathleendolerauthor

Twitter: @kathleendoler

 

 

 

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Benjamin Thomas

@thewritingtrain

http://www.thewritingtrain.com

 

Talking Mysteries with Author Margot Kinberg

 

Margot Kinberg

 

 

 

Margot Kinberg is a mystery author and Associate Professor. Born and raised in Pennsylvania, Kinberg graduated from Indiana University of Pennsylvania, then moved to Philadelphia, which Kinberg still considers home.

 

 

 

*Who influenced you to read books?

 
My sister had a real influence on my love of books. She read to me when I was very young, and then taught me how to read when I was in preschool. And there were a lot of books in my home, too, as I was growing up. I was also fortunate to have helpful, friendly librarians in the schools I attended (our public library, too). All of them encouraged me to read, and talked to me about books. As you can see, I was truly lucky to have a lot of support for reading.

 

 

 

So Many Books, So Little Time.

 

 

 

*What are the benefits of supporting literacy?

 
Research supports a number of benefits for literacy. First, there are cognitive benefits. Reading and writing promote critical thinking skills, perseverance skills, creative skills, and communication skills. Literacy also gives children access to information that they wouldn’t otherwise have. There are also major advantages in terms of academic prospects. And there’s the worldwide economic divide between people who are literate and those who aren’t. Being able to read and write makes it far more likely that a child will find meaningful work and more economic security.

 

 
The fact is, though, that millions of people, even in wealthy countries, don’t have access to literacy. Poverty, politics, war, remote living, and other realities mean that literacy is out of reach for a lot of people. For this reason, I think it’s important to carefully choose and then support groups that provide books, literacy education, and other literacy resources for those who don’t have them.

 

 

 

 

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*What impresses you the most about Agatha Christie?

 
Ah, you’ve found out I’m a Christie fan! Well, that’s no big surprise… Many things impress me about Christie’s writing. For one thing, she was prolific; she wrote for fifty years. And she tried several different formats, too: novels, short stories, plays, and radio scripts, to name a few. I respect that willingness to venture into different territory. I also am impressed with her willingness to bend, or even break, the ‘rules’ of writing in service of a good story. The Murder of Roger Ackroyd is just one example, but it’s perhaps the best known one.

For all that, though, Christie worked very hard at writing, and understood the need to keep at it. If she broke some rules, it was only after she knew what they were, and when it’s important to follow them. To me, it’s a bit like music. You can’t understand and use dissonance in a musical piece if you aren’t thoroughly familiar with how melody and harmony work.

 

 

 

 

“Work harder than you think you did yesterday.”

 

 

 

 

*Who was the first mystery novelist you were addicted and why?

 
The first mystery novelist I read was Arthur Conan Doyle. I started with his stories when I was a child, and never looked back. I think it was the intellectual puzzles that really appealed to me. I also liked learning about what life was like in Victorian London. At the same time, like many other children, I read Nancy Drew and the Hardy Boys. I loved trying to find the solution before the ‘star’ of the book did.

 

 

 

Arthur Conan Doyle

 

 

 

 

*What do you teach as an associate professor?

 
I’ve taught a number of different courses. Mostly, though, I teach in my university’s education program. Most of my students are working towards their master’s degrees in education. The classes I teach focus mostly on culture, language, and their impact on teaching and learning. I would love to teach writing and literature classes, but that hasn’t happened yet. I hope it will some time.

 

 

 

*You began writing fiction in 2007. How did you reach this point?

 
I’ve actually been writing since I was about eleven. That’s when I wrote my first short story. Over the years, I did mostly academic/non-fiction writing, especially when I was working on my doctoral degree. But I still wrote the occasional flash fiction piece, and a few short stories. Then, I decided to start writing novels, mostly at the encouragement of my family. That part of my writing career started with a dinner-table conversation. I told a work-related story, and my husband and daughter said I ought to write a mystery novel about it. And so I did. And I couldn’t be happier that they encouraged me; I love writing.

 

 

 

 

Writer

 

 

 

 

*What do you appreciate about crime fiction?

 
The diversity of the genre. Today’s crime fiction takes place all over the world, and features so many different sorts of plots and protagonists that it’s impossible to get bored. It’s diverse in other ways, too. Crime fiction can be fun and light, or the bleakest noir. It can be comic, tragic, and everything in between. There are long novels, short stories, and more. I could go on, but I think I’ve made my point. It really is a genre that offers something for just about every taste. And there are mystery stories written at all reading levels, too, from beginning readers to the most accomplished adult readers. What more could you want?

 

 

 

 

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*What makes a great mystery?

 
Everyone’s got a different response to that question, I think. People have different tastes, and look for different things in their books. But for me, a great mystery starts with well-defined characters. They don’t have to be sympathetic, but they do have to catch the reader’s interest. If you don’t care what happens to the characters, then why bother reading?

 
Great mysteries also need to be believable. It’s hard to be drawn into a story if you can’t imagine that it could really happen. Of course, fiction is fiction, so there’s always a bit of suspension of disbelief. But in real life, murders aren’t generally solved in just a few days, as they are on plenty of TV dramas. In real life, there aren’t that many credible motives for taking another person’s life. And in real life, police, attorneys, and other
professionals in the justice system do things in certain ways. The best crime fiction reflects that reality.

 

 

 

 

*What are your top pet peeves as a reader?

 
One thing that really bothers me as a reader is lack of careful editing. Skillful editing can tighten up a plot, so that the book moves along at a solid pace. It can also pinpoint inaccuracies, inconsistencies, and other problems, so that they can be corrected. And, of course, thorough editing calls attention to spelling and grammar issues, so that they can be fixed, too. When a book hasn’t been carefully edited, it leaves the impression
that the author didn’t care enough to make sure the book was well written. That may very well not be true, but that’s how it seems.

 
In a similar way, I dislike too many stretches of credibility. Everyone’s different about this, but I prefer to keep my disbelief close by. So, I get pulled out of a story rather quickly if something too unlikely happens. That includes too many coincidences, characters doing things they wouldn’t be able/allowed to do, and glaring inaccuracies.

 
I have to admit, too, that I’m not much of a one for extreme, brutal violence or other extreme explicitness in my crime fiction. Gratuitousness doesn’t serve a story. And adding something in just for ‘shock value’ takes away from the plot, in my opinion.

 

 

 

 

*What’s the hardest part about writing?

 
For me, the hardest part about writing is the perseverance it requires. Writing first drafts, revising, editing, and so on all take time. They don’t happen overnight, and it takes persistence to do those things. And then there’s the process of querying and sending manuscripts out to agents and publishers. Any writer can tell you that rejection happens a lot more often than acceptance, and it takes perseverance to keep going even after the fifth, or sixth, or tenth ‘no.’ Writing also takes a physical toll, and there are plenty of times when it’s tempting not to sit down in that chair and get to it. It takes determination to write when you’re least in the mood to do it.

 

 

 

 

Distracted businessman distracted

 

 

 

 

 

*Your favorite books of 2017?

 
That’s a difficult question to answer, because the year’s only a little past half over. There are lots more good books to be released. But here are a few 2017 releases that I’m especially excited about:

 
The Story of Classic Crime in 100 Books – Martin Edwards
The Dry – Jane Harper
Greenlight – Kalpana Swaminathan
Magpie Murders – Anthony Horowitz

 
There are also several other new entries in series I like – far too many to list here. I think 2017 is going to be a fine year for crime fiction.

 

 

 

 

 

recommended vintage orange seal isolated on white

 

 

 

 

 

*What are you currently working on?

 
Thanks for asking. I’m currently working on a few things. I’m finishing the revisions for my next Joel Williams novel, which will hopefully come out in the early spring of 2018. I’m also working on two standalones. One of them follows the story of one of the characters in my second Williams novel, B-Very Flat. The other is an expansion of a very short story I wrote a couple of years ago. We’ll see how these projects go, but I’m hoping they’ll turn out well.

 

 

Thanks again for hosting me, Benjamin!

 

 

 

CONNECT WITH MARGOT KINBERG!

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The Story of Writer Lorelei Logsdon

 

Lorelei Logsdon

 

Lorelei Logsdon worked as a communication specialist and technical writer for 20 years before turning her hand to fiction. She has published ten books in various genres under several pseudonyms, and is working on her next psychological thriller called THE OCEAN BETWEEN.

 

 

WELCOME LORELEI!!!

 

 

 

 

bow

 

 

 

 

Name some inspirations that led you to become a writer. 

I’ve been writing stories since I was very little, and my grandmother was always encouraging me. I’d like to think she would be very proud to know I’ve published a few books.

That’s great your grandmother encouraged you to keep going. Inspiration goes a long way. 




Road Leading Into A Sunset




Describe your experience from technical writing to fiction writing.

I’ve been a communications specialist for over 20 years, and I’ve been a freelance editor for the past four years. I’ve worked with hundreds of authors and have edited over 400 books in that time. The trick to all types of writing is to know your audience and write to their needs.

Cool! That’s a lot of writing experience. Would love to pick your brain sometime. Not literally, of course. 




thoughts




What do you enjoy about writing psychological thrillers?

As I’ve gotten older, I’ve developed an unhealthy interest in horror and dark fiction. I love the mystery, adding a twist here and there, and trying to fool the reader. I like taking readers for a ride.

I like psychological thrillers too. I would imagine these are a bit harder to write though.




What’s your goal now as a writer?

For now, my goal is simply to enjoy the process. The act of writing is enjoyable, and I want to keep it that way. Writing is a pastime, a hobby, a way to unwind. I never want it to become a chore.

YES. I love this. 




“For now, my goal is simply to enjoy the process. The act of writing is enjoyable, and I want to keep it that way.”–Lorelei Logsdon





In Comorbid, who is Jame’s Davis?

James Davis is a child trapped in a grownup’s body, his development truncated at a moment in his childhood when overwhelming trauma took complete control over him. He has found a way to function, or at least he thinks he has, but in reality he’s at the mercy of his troubled, damaged mind.

Wow. This definitely sounds intriguing. 




What can you tell us about those whom he cares about?

Consciously, James cares about his mother and her memory. She was the most important person in his life. Subconsciously, James cares about children who are suffering, having a deep desire to help them like he wishes someone would have helped him. By helping others, he’s helping his own inner child. At its heart, though, COMORBID is about James’s mother, even though her POV is given only sparingly in the book.

I love seeing the inner motivation of characters and what drives them to do things. It makes the story stick in my mind for some reason. 




Thinking




What was your response to all the positive reviews on COMORBID?

I love reviews, regardless if they’re positive or negative. Of course it’s great to see a positive review, but just knowing someone read the book and was affected strongly enough to review it makes me happy.

Great attitude. I hope it rubs off on me. 




Name three things that have hindered you in completing your work. 

There’s never enough time in the day. Most of COMORBID was written over the course of six months between 2:00 a.m. and 6:00 a.m. It was an extremely tiring process, though worth it! The only other challenge in writing it was letting other opinions affect your work. If you ask opinions of 100 people, you’ll likely get 100 different opinions. While it’s nice to get feedback, don’t let other people’s ideas interfere too much with your vision.

Ouch. That sounds like a grueling schedule to write anything. It’s incredible you were even able to pull it off!




“Life is either a daring adventure or nothing at all.”




What keeps you motivated?

At the time, the story wouldn’t leave me alone. It wasn’t a choice to write it. I had to write it in order to get it out of my head and finally be able to find some peace again. Story ideas would wake me up at night and if I didn’t get up and go write them down, I couldn’t get back to sleep. Once a story gets stuck in your head, it’s impossible to focus on much else.

Many of us can relate to this. Mine has been bouncing around the head for a while now. 




Share your story




What’s your antagonist? Or what prevents you to achieving your dream?

Time is the #1 enemy.

Very true. Isn’t there a pause button somewhere?




Pause button




Why do writers quit?

I think writers quit for lots of varied reasons. Some may have an unrealistic definition of success, and when they inevitably don’t reach it, they throw in the towel. Some writers are perfectionists, always needing the perfect office setup, the perfect title, the perfect cover, and the perfect sentence. That’s a lot of pressure! If you put too much pressure on yourself to do everything perfectly, you can lose the joy in the process. For the most part, I think we often make things much more difficult than they really are. First and foremost, write for yourself.

This is a good viewpoint to have. Much appreciated. 




~First and foremost, write for yourself~





What would you say to a writer who has given up?

There’s nothing wrong with giving up. No one should feel pressured into something they no longer love or no longer are interested in. If you’ve given it everything you have and you’re ready to move on, then do that. Just know that you can always come back. It may be 10 years, 25 years, or 50 years, but you can always come back.

There’s a sense of hope here in your statement. Love it. 




Can you give us a sneak peek of The Ocean Between?

The Ocean Between is currently just an idea floating in my brain. It’s a story I published several years ago in another genre, forced to fit a mold it is uncomfortable in. The true story will be The Ocean Between, and it will be unrecognizable to the first published for those characters. You’ve heard it said that sometimes characters refuse to do the things writers want them to do, but in this case they did them but weren’t happy about it. I owe it to them to tell their true story.

Well, I hope the idea goes from floating to bouncing and a full blown story!




Do you have a tentative release date?

As I write for the joy of it rather than to someone’s arbitrary deadlines, I have no date in mind for release. When the story is ready to come out, I will let it. Until then, I won’t bother to try to force it.

We’ll be waiting…




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Benjaminin Thomas

@thewritingtrain

http://www.mysterythrillerweek.com

Author Interview with Megan Tennant and upcoming Book Release

 

 

 

The Official Aletheia Book Trailer!

 

 

 

 

 

AVAILABLE SEPT. 7, 2017

 

 

Aletheia

 

 

Book Blurb

 

The first book in The Seventh River series, Aletheia, takes the young adult dystopian genre to new, and often dark, places. While coming highly recommended to fans of the Hunger Games, Maze Runner, and Divergent, readers will find a gut-wrenching, original plot that dares to stand apart from what is expected of the genre. Brilliant and brutal, Aletheia is praised for tearing deep emotions from even the toughest reader. Whether you enjoy post-apocalyptic, dystopian, or general science fiction, reviewers agree, Aletheia is a must read.

Nearly two decades after the fall, the transcendent city of Iris is the only place rumored to have a cure to the disease that decimated the world. Beyond Iris, are the remnants of the old world, crawling with the Depraved. Infected with Lethe, they no longer remember the people or dreams they were once willing to fight for, and are left instead with familiar voices that whisper dark and unfamiliar words within their minds. Instinct is all that keeps the diseased struggling to exist another day.

Deep underground, below Iris, exists a compound, prison to the Nameless who traded their freedom for the cure to Lethe. It is here that 736 fights to protect those she loves. Not against the Depraved that she’s taught to fear, but against the society that saved her from that fate. She was willing to trade away her rights to regain the ability to form memories, but she won’t let the cult that cured her treat the lives of the Nameless like a resource to be used and discarded. At least, not without a fight.

How much is 736 willing to sacrifice for revenge against her captors? For those she cares about? For freedom? Everything has a cost, what would you be willing to pay?

 

Amazon | Goodreads 

 

 

 

 

 

AUTHOR INTERVIEW

 

 

 

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*Where are you originally from?

I’m originally from Angels Camp, California. A cute little town near Big Trees State Park.


*What’s it like living in Silicon Valley?

Expensive! But other than that, fairly nice. Silicon Valley is very diverse and full of science and art. It’s my kind of place, though cost of living could definitely improve.



*Is anyone else in your family a writer?

My mother has written some published children’s poems and stories, and my father is an aspiring science fiction writer. My brother is a great graphic artist who also dabbles in shadow boxes, but never caught the writing bug.

 

*Did you really spend half your life exploring wild jungles in Costa Rica? Have pictures?

I did, and it was incredible. From the age of roughly 8 to near 16 I lived on the Nicoya Peninsula, surrounded by jungles, beaches, and waterfalls. It was an amazing experience and has fueled many of the more fundamental aspects of my writing. And I do have pictures, which is a good thing, because I might not believe all of my stories if I didn’t have proof.

Costa Rica 3

 

 

Costa Rica 1

 

 

Cost Rica 2

 

 

 

*Why did you choose to be an indie author?

I chose to be an indie author from the very start, before even querying a publisher. For me, the choice was easy and ultimately came down to control. I knew what I wanted my novels to be, and I didn’t want them being twisted to fit into the market norms. A lot of beautiful things are lost from art when parts are carved away so it can fit in a more ‘market friendly’ box. I don’t recommend this route for everyone. But for those who can afford it, and want a high degree of control over their work, it’s definitely something to look into. My partner and I actually started a company (Cloud Kitten Publishing) to publish Aletheia, and we hope to one day soon offer services that mesh the experience and support of traditional publishing with the creative freedom of self-publishing.

 

*How do you personally define dystopian, or Post-apocalyptic fiction?

I believe there are many different ways to define a genre, but personally, what I take most out of dystopian and post-apocalyptic fiction is the way humans handle disaster and immense societal shifts. In both of these genres, we commonly see a society that was once our own but has been forced through a rapid set of changes whether due to disaster, war, disease, power shifts, or a combination. We see societies torn apart, and sometimes rebuilt. In these settings, characters are pushed to their limits and forced into gray areas that test them on levels we don’t often experience ourselves.

 

*Why did you decide to write this genre?

I decided to write my first series in the dystopian genre in part because the idea I had for Aletheia was dystopian by nature, but also, because I’m passionate about the genre. I love to see stories where humans are pushed out of their comfort zone and forced to face and overcome their fears. I love stories where characters are very real and have a gray range to their personality. The dystopian genre contains many of these stories. I also believe that it’s very important to write what you love. If a writer is truly passionate about a story, it will show and make for a better read. Also, writing a novel takes a very long time, so I reserve that level of dedication for genres I’m passionate about. In future projects, I’ll be exploring alien science fiction and fantasy, since those are genres I’m passionate about. But I don’t expect to stray much beyond the three. And you will never find a contemporary novel written by me.

*What is Aletheia about?

In Aletheia, the world has been ravaged by a disease that causes a range of psychotic behavior, but most notably, interrupts the reconsolidation of memories. The latter means that when infected people remember things, the memories aren’t restored, and are thus partially or fully lost. The nature of this disease leads people to try to avoid thinking about the things most important to them, but there’s a catch.

Don’t think about the white bear.

You thought of the white bear, didn’t you? The memories people most try to avoid recalling are the first they lose, leading to a rapid breakdown of their mental well being.This is only further fueled by the voices in their heads, the deep set paranoia, and the very real fact that society has crumbled around them and they can’t trust anyone.

Aletheia starts roughly two decades after the fall of society. The protagonist was infected with the disease as a child, and in exchange for the cure, she traded her freedom to the Prophet, who is the main antagonist. She, along with thousands of other Nameless, are now imprisoned underground, working for the Prophet and the elite city of Iris, paying a debt that can never be repaid. 736 lives like this for a decade, until the game changes and the risks of staying in the compound, outweigh the risks of escape. But plans are underway, and 736 soon meets someone on the outside who promises a chance of freedom, not just for her, but for all of the Nameless. But freedom will come with a great deal of costs, not just for 736, but for those she loves.

Aletheia is all about a very gray and realistic portrayal of a post-apocalyptic world, the costs of survival, and the choices we make when trapped. In Aletheia, you’ll find a diverse cast in terms of ethnicity, sexuality, disabilities, motives, and more. Characters clash and plans Interweave, leaving a thread of difficult decisions that cost lives. In a world where no one can really be trusted, but alliances are the only way to win, Aletheia delves into the nature of sacrifice and victory.


 

 

*Is there a central character or protagonist?

Aletheia is written in first person present tense from the point of view of 736. Our protagonist, 736, is a strong female lead with a murky past. Having contracted the disease as a child, she has no real memory of her time before being infected. Living in the underground compound, and doing the Prophet’s bidding has left 736 stronger in some ways, but weaker in others. 736 struggles with PTSD, guilt, and anger, but she also has a lot of love for those she trusts.

 

*Can you tell us a little about the setting of Aletheia?

Aletheia is set in the crumbling remnants of a city built around science, art, and nature. The compound where 736 spends much of her time is deep underground and made of cold concrete. High above, the land is split between the magnificent, wall encased, city of Iris, and the nature strewn ruins beyond. Aletheia is set in the future, so you will see some slight technological advancements, but after two decades without society, most of the environment is in a state of partial ruin.

 

 

*When is the next book of the series due?

You can expect to see Aletheia’s sequel (The Seventh River #2) out sometime in 2018.

CONNECT WITH MEGAN TENNANT!

 

 

Megan Tennant Author

Main siteAletheia site

Amazon | Goodreads

 

Youtube

 

 

 

 

Thanks Megan!!

 

 

 

Benjamin Thomas

@thewritingtrain

http://www.mysterythrillerweek.com

http://www.audiospy.wordpress.com

Books & Blurbs featuring David Baldacci

IT’S TIME FOR BOOKS AND BLURBS

 

 

Girl  reading a book

 

 

 

Featuring books by Author Juggernaut, David Baldacci

 

 

 

Light

 

 

 

 

The Fix David Baldacci

 

Goodreads

 

I like what D. Baldacci has done with the Amos Dekker series, although this wasn’t my favorite one. The best part was the last 1/3 of the book. The first 2/3’s IS well written, intriguing, with a killer hook, but still felt lacking. Having said all of that—David Baldacci still writes the best plots! They’re absolutely off the charts, cerebral, and entertaining. Also enjoyed the introduction of a new character, DIS agent Harper Brown. She played a vital role throughout the book and I can sense she’ll be back in the future.

 

Other points…

 

  • I wish Melvin Mars played a bigger role in the book.
  • Enjoyed Melvin’s developing relationship (no spoilers!)
  • Can’t say that I really like Alex Jamison that much. I know she’s a well written character, but I’m not impressed with her role suppose.
  • I’m guessing Jamison is there to bring out the human side of Amos Dekker and provide some level of conflict. If that’s the case, then it worked.
  • I would’ve loved to see Baldacci go deeper into Dekker’s personal worldview. Maybe see more of his motivations. It came out more in the last act of the book. His sense of humor, boldness, quirkiness was revealed more.
  • The hook in the beginning was AWESOME. The solving of the crime took a TON of deduction, investigation, and deliberation from multiple sources. I think this was somewhat overdone, although the plot was excellent.
  • There was one subplot that could’ve been eliminated in my opinion. It didn’t bear any weight on the story, conflict or overall story goal.
  • The Climax wasn’t the greatest I’ve seen from Baldacci, but there was a nice twist at the end.
  • Finally, I felt the first 2/3’s lacked somewhere, but I can’t say what. Take away the subplot, beef up the role with Melvin Mars, polish the climax, and I would’ve given this 5 stars.

 

 

 

 

 

 

The Innocent David Baldacci

 

Goodreads

 

 

David Baldacci is a master storyteller on steroids.

This was my first Will Robbie book and loved it! Not many people can make an assassin so intriguing, appealing, and compelling. Loved the wit, charm, and sarcastic humor of Robie. His personality fully springs out of the dynamics of his relationship with FBI agent Vance, and fourteen old runaway.

Baldacci writes the most complex plots that I’ve read of any author, yet his characters are just as deep. The use of foreshadowing, characters, tension, stakes, causes you to be lost in the story.

 

Other points…

 

  • Will Robie’s personality is a winner in this one, especially for a lone-ranger assassin. Actually, you see him saving lives more than taking them.
  • He’s a great investigator.
  • His personality is more entertaining than similar types like, Brad Thor’s Scot Harvath etc. Scot Harvath is technically ex-marine, CIA, black ops, but still similar.
  • This is one of my favorite Baldacci books so far!
  • Looking forward to the next Will Robie books!

 

  1.  The Hit
  2. Bullseye (short story)
  3. The Target
  4. The Guilty
  5. End Game coming November 14th, 2017!

 

 

 

End Game David Baldacci

 

 

 

Thanks David!!

 

 

 

David Baldacci Headshot

 

 

 

 

 

Benjamin Thomas

@thewritingtrain

http://www.mysterythrillerweek.com

 

BOOKS AND BLURBS: WHO A novel of the near future by Karen A. Wyle

 

 

Pages and glowing letters flying out of a book

 

 

 

 

BOOKS AND BLURBS

 

WHO A novel of the near future

by Karen A. Wyle

 

 

 

 

WHO

 

 

 

Goodreads

 

Have they changed their minds? Or have their minds been changed?

Death is no longer the end. Those who prepare, and can afford it, may have their memories and personalities digitally preserved. The digitally stored population can interact with the world of the living, remaining part of their loved ones’ lives. They can even vote.

But digital information has its vulnerabilities.

After the young and vital Thea dies and is stored, her devoted husband Max starts to wonder about changes in her preoccupations and politics. Are they simply the result of the new company she keeps? Or has she been altered without her knowledge and against her will?

And if Thea is no longer herself, what can they do?

 

 

 

 

virtual-reality-1802469_960_720

 

 

 

 

 

 

*How did the concept of this book develop?

I’ve been aware of the concept of digital survival after corporeal death since reading Frederick Pohl’s Heechee Saga, if not before. Following all the public discussion of hacking computer files, I eventually thought of the possibility that digital personalities and memories could be hacked.

This is definitely a scary thought! I’ve read some of Ray Kurzweil’s writings along this line. Cool, but scary. 

 

 

 

 

hacked

 

 

 

 

 

*Tell us about the main character, Thea. 

Thea is a tough and assertive young woman. She’s very creative but also analytical. In the latter respect, she takes after her mother, though the two of them disagree on politics. (Thea leans libertarian.) I wouldn’t call her a romantic, though she is deeply in love with her husband Max. She has a big appetite for experience and sensation.

She sounds like someone I’d like to meet! Thea is also a nice name 🙂

 

 

 

*What is the setting like in WHO?

There are two basic settings: the “real” or corporeal world, and the digital environment LiveAfter provides its clients. The latter lacks variety and interest, though this may be corrected eventually. I tried to create a contrast between the vivid sensory detail of our world and the digital alternative.

I believe settings matter a lot in stories to cement the reader and deepen the storyline. This one sounds marvelous!

 

 

 

 

*Tell us about the technology employed in your book. 

Clients are given a liquid filled with nanoparticles that travel throughout the nervous system. They are then put through very detailed scans that rely on the nanoparticles to map neural pathways and connections. That data is used to create virtual files of the client’s personality and memories. After the initial baseline data collection, clients can come in for subsequent scans to update their files.

It’s amazing what they’re able to do with nanoparticles. What will they come up next! 

 

 

 

 

 

Nerve cell

 

 

 

 

*Can you tell us something about WHO that we wouldn’t know by reading the book?

You wouldn’t know about a disgusting slob of a hacker who figured in the story until fairly late in the revision process.

You might not realize how much I didn’t already know, and had to learn, about federal court procedure in general and class actions in particular.

You might not know how much of the plot I made up as I went along. I’m what some writers call a “pantser,” meaning I fly by the seat of my pants – at the rough draft stage at least — rather than planning ahead in detail.

Learning is always a good thing, eh? That’s one thing I like about reading and being a writer—You get to learn all manner of things. 

 

 

 

*What did you learn from researching the technology?

One of my beta readers, who’s an expert on software and related technologies, educated me about what machine-generated code would look like and how it would differ from code a human would write. He also shared with me a few basics about subroutines.

Wow. I didn’t know machine generate codes at all. That’s amazing. 

 

 

 

 

code

 

 

 

 

*Do you think there’s a  futuristic possibility of digitizing memories and personalities?

Assuming no catastrophic descent into a pre-technological era, I’d call it (pun intended) a virtual certainty.

Yikes! Digitizing memories or personalities definitely hard to fathom at this point, but I wouldn’t be surprised when we get there!

 

 

 

 

memories

 

 

 

 

THANKS

 

 

 

Connect with Karen!

Goodreads | Website | Facebook |

Amazon

 

 

 

Thanks for riding the Train folks!! Don’t be a stranger!

 

 

 

Waving bye

 

 

 

 

Benjamin Thomas

@thewritingtrain

http://www.mysterythrillerweek.com