Interview with Author D.M. Pulley

Interview in progress sign on office door

 

 

Interview with D.M. Pulley

 

*In the beginning of your writing career you underlined the struggles you had, but in the end you said, “But I had  a story to tell.” I love that! Can you tell us about this feeling?

 

The building that inspired The Dead Key haunted me for ten years before I really sat down to write the story. In that time, I changed jobs, I got married, and I had children, but no matter where life took me, the abandoned vault below the Euclid Avenue and its unclaimed safe deposit boxes followed. It nagged at me in daydreams and every time I picked up a novel. Whenever I talked about the vacant building with friends, I could tell they were intrigued. When I considered what treasures and secrets had been left buried in the basement of that old bank, my toes would curl up with anticipation. The story just wouldn’t leave me alone.

 

*How did the story about the torso killer emerge and made you want to tell it?

 

Another abandoned building in Cleveland inspired The Unclaimed Victim. I had no idea that the Torso Killer would become the focus of the story. I just began researching the empty Union Gospel Press building’s history, particularly its years as a religious mission in the 1920s and 1930s, and became fascinated with the nun-like “Sallies” that lived there and the city of Cleveland during the Great Depression. The labyrinthine factory cried out for a serial killer in the mold of H.H. Holmes (see Devil in the White City by Erik Larson), and the Torso Killer became an obvious, albeit daunting, choice. So much has been written about the Torso Murders, I was reluctant to take on these true crimes, but as I delved into the research, it became clear that not every story about the murders had been told.

 

*Describe how you came up with the title, The Unclaimed Victim.

 

With this book, I wanted to tell a serial killer story from the victims’ perspective. So many thrillers are told from the detective’s or the killer’s point of view, and the victims become more like objects than people. The fact that only three of the thirteen official Torso victims were ever identified or claimed by their families struck me as another injustice of these crimes. It was my intent to breathe life into the Torso Killer victims with the hope that one might just get away.

 

*What was your first reaction when you heard about the Torso killer?

 

First I was horrified, then morbidly fascinated, then ultimately skeptical of the official findings. The Torso Killer became a media sensation as one of the nation’s most notorious maniacs back in a time before the term “serial killer” even existed. The detectives and coroners that worked the case were certainly devoted and professional, but they had no concept of modern profiling or access to modern forensics. After looking at the facts, I couldn’t shake the feeling that some evidence and potential suspects slipped through the cracks. The killer was never officially identified.

 

 

 

Closeup woman shocked face with eyeglasses

 

 

 

*Describe your experience writing about him, the unclaimed victim, and the final conclusion (no spoilers of course!).

 

It took eight months of research and drafting to really find the story I wanted to tell and another several months to finish it. I don’t outline, so I usually don’t know the answer to the mystery until I write the ending. As a result, I’m on the edge of my seat as the final scenes unfold. The process of writing this book took me to some pretty dark places where I considered murder on an intimate level from many angles, and asked myself almost daily what it would take for me to kill someone. My kids gave me funny looks for a few weeks there.

 

 

Unclaimed Victim image

 

 

*How does it feel knowing the success you have today versus the struggles you began with?

 

I feel unbelievably lucky that my books have found an audience and I am able to write full time right now. I try to be thankful each day I sit down to work. I am currently editing my fourth novel, and I’ve found that every book presents different struggles and challenges. I still try to write my first draft like nobody will ever read it. I still worry the literary police will take me away in handcuffs any day now for impersonating a writer.

 

*Do you like historical fiction?

 

I love historical fiction, but I generally prefer to write and read stories about the 20th century. Some of my favorites right now are The Paris Wife by Paula McClain, All the Light We Cannot See by Anthony Doerr, and The Stranger House by Reginald Hill.

 

 

 

History Wooden Letterpress Concept

 

 

 

*Are your stories always based upon true crime?

 

I like to use real history as a backdrop for my stories. The Dead Key wasn’t based on true crime as much as Cleveland’s history of political corruption and financial default. Similarly, The Buried Book was inspired by true events like the 1953 Flint-Beecher tornadoes and Detroit-area history. My third and fourth novels were inspired by true crimes from Cleveland’s past.

 

*What would you say to all the struggling writers out there?

 

Keep writing. Keep reading. Don’t fall in love with your words; just find and follow the story. Don’t be afraid to try and fail. Always be willing to re-write, rework, and re-examine. Don’t give up. I also recommend reading craft books including On Writing by Stephen King, No Plot, No Problem by Chris Baty, and Save the Cat by Blake Snyder.  

 

*What are you working on next?

 

My fourth book is a historical mystery about a hundred-year-old mansion in Shaker Heights, Ohio and the decades of secrets and lies hidden behind its facade.

 

 

 

DM Pulley A image

 

 

About D. M. Pulley

Before becoming a full-time writer, D.M. Pulley worked as a Professional Engineer, rehabbing historic structures and conducting forensic investigations of building failures. Pulley’s structural survey of a vacant building in Cleveland inspired her debut novel, The Dead Key, the winner of the 2014 Amazon Breakthrough Novel Award. The disappearance of a family member formed the basis for her second historical mystery, The Buried Book. Pulley’s third novel, The Unclaimed Victim, delves into the dark history behind Cleveland’s Torso Killer and is due out November 14, 2017. She lives in northeast Ohio with her husband, her two children, and a dog named Hobo, and she is hard at work on her fourth book.

 

Website | Twitter | Facebook | Amazon

 

 

 

 

 

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Interview with Travis Smith Author of Superhero Ethics- Part II

SuperHero ethics image

 

 

Interview with Travis Smith,
Author of Superhero Ethics

 

About the Author:

Travis Smith is the author of Superhero Ethics (Templeton Press). He is an associate professor at Concordia University where he teaches political philosophy. He remembers seeing Superman: The Movie with his dad on the big screen at the age of five. He has been collecting comic books since he bought a copy ofUncanny X-Men #207 in 1986 with his allowance from the racks at Stan’s Variety. For over thirty years, Travis has made a weekly stop at his local comic shop on the day new comics are released to pick up the books on his pull list–from Comic Connection in Hamilton, Ontario, while he attended McMaster University, to the Million Year Picnic in Cambridge, Massachusetts, as he earned his doctorate at Harvard University, to Major Comics in Montreal, Quebec, the city where he now teaches Hobbes, Tocqueville, Plato and Aristotle by day, and fights crime by night.

For more information, please visit www.templetonpress.org/books/superhero- ethics

 

 

 

Batman image

 

 

 

What is the overall theme of the book?

It’s ostensibly about superheroes but it’s really about us, in our early twenty-first century moment—the challenges of living in our world today; wondering what kind of people we should aspire to be; and what it means to be responsible, for ourselves and to others.

 

Describe your process of breaking down each character’s moral code of ethics.

I gathered information about each character’s origin, powers, relationships, major stories, successes and failures—rewatching many movies and shows, reading and rereading comic books. Then I tried to discern what was at their core. What kinds of people do they resemble if you don’t take the fanciful elements too literally? What part of the human condition—which temperaments and tendencies, which dilemmas, dreams, and dangers—do they represent? Then I had to pair each one up with another character I saw as essentially speaking to a similar part of the human condition, but in a distinctive enough way so as to avoid overlap and repetition.

 

 

 

Choosing Between Right or Wrong

 

 

What is the significance of hero’s vigilante justice?

Superhero stories reflect our society’s uneasy relationship with violence. We abhor it yet remain fascinated by it. These stories give that impulse a vicarious outlet. But your question reminds me of when I told my wife that I was watching the Rocky movies with our young son and she said, with faux outrage, “you’re watching movies about fighting with him?” I protested, “the fighting is a metaphor!” With a wink, she replied, “a metaphor for what? For fighting?!?” My approach in Superhero Ethics downplays the vigilantism and the violence, fully aware of how ironic it is to use characters best known for participating in violent spectacles as models for more civilized behavior. But I’m also a fan of professional wrestling, and in that genre of simulated combat, each bout should, as they say, “tell a story.”

 

 

Vigilante on the white background, red illustration

 

 

In every chapter I get an impression there’s an inherent need of saving or altering the human condition. Explain.

Superheroes definitely speak to our hopes and fears regarding technological science. Most of my work as a professor of political theory focuses on early modern thought. In a way, you might say that the great early modern philosophers, such as Francis Bacon and Thomas Hobbes, were trying to be superheroes. They were trying to find ways to abolish suffering—or else make the promise of its abolition seem believable. They took the Biblical idea of saving the world and made it a project for human beings to pursue—with or without God’s help. What’s more comical than that? So, I’m not surprised that the models of heroism found in the modern medium of comic books are representatives of that endeavor.

 

 

“Suffering is one of life’s great teachers.” – Bryant H. McGill

 

 

 

What role does heroism play in our society?

I wouldn’t want to downplay the heroism of the bravest among us. In fact, I think our society tends to pooh-pooh heroics, as if only jerks and dolts try to be heroes and their spiritedness only puts the rest of us in danger. (Thomas Hobbes deserves a lot of credit for instilling this attitude in us.) But for the purposes of this book, I’m more interested in asking whether superheroes model behaviors that we non-heroic types can and should labor to exhibit in our own lives, for our individual and collective well-being.

 

 

 

Hero Concept Pinned Cards and Rust

 

 

 

What do you think of the contrast between Daredevil and the Punisher?

You’re right. That warrants a chapter-length treatment, doesn’t it?

 

Do you have more books planned about Superhero ethics? (Please, don’t make me beg.)

If I could write any book on philosophy and popular culture that I wanted to next, it would be about women’s professional wrestling. I think that’s the most exciting and inspiring thing out there today in sports and entertainment.

 

 

 

 

Kapow image

 

 

 

Your book touches on a very fundamental and  complicated subject. What is justice? What is the right way to live? Who or what determines what is right or wrong? Where does our sense of ethics come from and why do we seek to emulate it in fictional characters? This book was epic and I loved every bit of it! Definitely would be interested if you wrote more. Perhaps the role of villains? Hint, hint.

 

I can imagine a volume on super-villains. Nobody wants global governance more than they do! And as they say, compelling villains believe they’re the real heroes. I have been thinking a lot lately, for instance, about what the character of Killmonger from Black Panther is intended to communicate about the nature of injustice. Anyway, thank you to The Writing Train for the opportunity to discuss my book. I’m glad you enjoyed it!

 

 

 

Superhero dude with S image

 

 

Thanks Travis!

 

 

SuperHero ethics image

 

 

Whether in comic books or on movie screens, superhero stories are where many people first encounter questions about how they should conduct their lives.

Although these outlandish figures—in their capes, masks, and tights, with their unbelievable origins and preternatural powers—are often dismissed as juvenile amusements, they really are profound metaphors for different approaches to shaping one’s character and facing the challenges of life.

But, given the choice, which superhero should we follow today? Who is most worthy of our admiration? Whose goals are most noble? Whose ethics should we strive to emulate?

To decide, Travis Smith takes ten top superheroes and pits them one against another, chapter by chapter. The hero who better exemplifies how we ought to live advances to the final round. By the end of the book, a single superhero emerges victorious and is crowned most exemplary for our times.

How, then, shall we live?

 

    • How can we overcome our beastly nature and preserve our humanity? (The Hulk vs. Wolverine)

 

    • How far can we rely on our willpower and imagination to improve the human condition? (Iron Man vs. Green Lantern)

 

    • What limits must we observe when protecting our neighborhood from crime and corruption? (Batman vs. Spider-Man)

 

    • Will the pursuit of an active life or a contemplative life bring us true fulfillment? (Captain America vs. Mr. Fantastic)

 

    • Should we put our faith in proven tradition or in modern progress to achieve a harmonious society? (Thor vs. Superman)

 

Using superheroes to bring into focus these timeless themes of the human condition, Smith takes us on an adventure as fantastic as any you’ll find on a splash page or the silver screen—an intellectual adventure filled with surprising insights, unexpected twists and turns, and a daring climax you’ll be thinking about long after it’s over.

 

Amazon | Goodreads | Templeton Press

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

Interview with Travis Smith Author of Superhero Ethics- Part I

SuperHero ethics image

 

 

Interview with Travis Smith,
Author of Superhero Ethics

 

About the Author:

Travis Smith is the author of Superhero Ethics (Templeton Press). He is an associate professor at Concordia University where he teaches political philosophy. He remembers seeing Superman: The Movie with his dad on the big screen at the age of five. He has been collecting comic books since he bought a copy ofUncanny X-Men #207 in 1986 with his allowance from the racks at Stan’s Variety. For over thirty years, Travis has made a weekly stop at his local comic shop on the day new comics are released to pick up the books on his pull list–from Comic Connection in Hamilton, Ontario, while he attended McMaster University, to the Million Year Picnic in Cambridge, Massachusetts, as he earned his doctorate at Harvard University, to Major Comics in Montreal, Quebec, the city where he now teaches Hobbes, Tocqueville, Plato and Aristotle by day, and fights crime by night.

For more information, please visit www.templetonpress.org/books/superhero- ethics

 

 

Superhero

 

 

How would you define the notion of a “Super” hero as opposed to
other heroes in literature?

I use the term superhero conventionally as pertaining to the kinds of costumed characters labeled that way in the DC and Marvel universes and in similar stories. Most of them have superpowers, but not all of them. I don’t think they’re inherently more super than other fictional heroes lacking those costumes and powers. In fact, for the purposes of Superhero Ethics, I downplay the “super” part of superhero—and even the “hero” part, too, to a fair degree. I look for ways these characters’ personalities, abilities, and activities can be read metaphorically so as to resemble the lives of ordinary human beings and the challenges we face. Maybe counterintuitively, I think that their being fantastical makes it easier to apply them analogously to our experiences and situations. It is often hard and sometimes objectionable to compare our own problems with the real-world difficulties confronted by other actual people—or even characters featured in more realistic fiction.

 

 

 

Superman logo image

 

 

What is it in our nature that draws us to superheroes?

In democratic society, we emphasize equality—the ways we’re equal to each other, and the ways we say we should be. But we also want to be happier than we are, better than we are. We look for or create models of excellence that are worthy of admiration and emulation. We do so on our own terms, of course. We like superheroes who make sacrifices on behalf of anyone and try to save everyone. We like it when we can imagine that any of us are potentially like any of them. Superheroes also remind us of the importance of courage in overcoming hardships and pain. I think courage tends to be neglected in the way we’re raised today, since we’re so concerned with minimizing suffering and making everything safe. So, superheroes speak to some parts of the human condition that are neglected or suppressed in our public ethos but ineradicably part of us, and therefore of perennial relevance to ethics.

 

 

Iron man toy image

 

 

Do you have a personal favorite?

Captain Marvel—the Carol Danvers version of Captain Marvel, originally known as Ms. Marvel—is my favorite superhero. She’s not featured in the book because I decided to focus on popular, well-known characters who have been featured prominently in recent films. But she is the first female character to star in a solo self-titled movie set within the Marvel Cinematic Universe, to be released in early 2019, and I’m excited about that.

 

 

“I think that we all do heroic things, but hero is not a noun, it’s a verb.” – Robert Downey Jr.

 

 

Describe the hardest chapter to write and why it was so difficult.

My chapter on Captain America and Mister Fantastic was the hardest to write because I use them to contrast the two models of the best life for human beings according to the classical tradition: the active life and the contemplative life. And I’m aware of how distant my own life is to any model of either ideal. I try to approach those characters in good part by asking: In which ways does modern society hamper or compromise any attempt to realize these conceptions of the best life—even among those individuals who come closest to approximating them?

 

 

 

Captain america toy image

 

 

 

Name some characters that didn’t make the cut for this book.

There are so many! Because I made the decision to focus on characters well-known presently to the general public, I didn’t write a book about my favorite characters. That would include not only Captain Marvel but Booster Gold, the new Ms. Marvel, Squirrel Girl, and Power Girl. I didn’t include the very popular Deadpool or Harley Quinn because they mock the very idea that superheroes should be good role models. I also wanted the characters I chose to be distinctive with respect to the ethical concerns they represent.

So, Black Widow wasn’t examined on account of embodying the maxim “don’t be what they made you,” which makes her too similar to the better-known Wolverine. Black Panther’s feature film came out only as I was submitting my final manuscript, so he wasn’t treated at length—although in the book I hint that he represents a happier version of the active life than Captain America does. I most regret leaving out Wonder Woman, but I mention that she is more divine than Superman, and I argue that Superman is already too divine for us.

The only character good enough to contrast with Wonder Woman is Silver Surfer and most of us are glad to have forgotten the movie that featured him. Personally, I prefer Supergirl to Superman—she represents the challenge of living up to an impossible standard already set by someone else to whom you’re inextricably tied. That’s a situation a lot of us are familiar with. But I decided not to use characters whose origins are directly dependent on another character’s story. I think if I were writing the book just five years from now there would be so many more popular, well-known characters to choose from.

A mere ten years ago, Iron Man was a relatively obscure character. Most moviegoers hardly knew anything about Tony Stark until Robert Downey, Jr. made him so endearing. Doesn’t that seem crazy now?

 

Funny portrait of a superhero

Thanks Travis! Stay tuned for part two of the interview…

 

 

SuperHero ethics image

 

 

Whether in comic books or on movie screens, superhero stories are where many people first encounter questions about how they should conduct their lives.

Although these outlandish figures—in their capes, masks, and tights, with their unbelievable origins and preternatural powers—are often dismissed as juvenile amusements, they really are profound metaphors for different approaches to shaping one’s character and facing the challenges of life.

But, given the choice, which superhero should we follow today? Who is most worthy of our admiration? Whose goals are most noble? Whose ethics should we strive to emulate?

To decide, Travis Smith takes ten top superheroes and pits them one against another, chapter by chapter. The hero who better exemplifies how we ought to live advances to the final round. By the end of the book, a single superhero emerges victorious and is crowned most exemplary for our times.

How, then, shall we live?

    • How can we overcome our beastly nature and preserve our humanity? (The Hulk vs. Wolverine)
    • How far can we rely on our willpower and imagination to improve the human condition? (Iron Man vs. Green Lantern)
    • What limits must we observe when protecting our neighborhood from crime and corruption? (Batman vs. Spider-Man)
    • Will the pursuit of an active life or a contemplative life bring us true fulfillment? (Captain America vs. Mr. Fantastic)
    • Should we put our faith in proven tradition or in modern progress to achieve a harmonious society? (Thor vs. Superman)

Using superheroes to bring into focus these timeless themes of the human condition, Smith takes us on an adventure as fantastic as any you’ll find on a splash page or the silver screen—an intellectual adventure filled with surprising insights, unexpected twists and turns, and a daring climax you’ll be thinking about long after it’s over.

 

 

Amazon | Goodreads | Templeton Press

 

 

June Book Recommendations with Regan

IT’S TELEVISION TUESDAY!

 

 

 

1950s TV Set

 

 

 

 

My VERY Ambitious June TBR!

 

 

 

 

 

Do you have any of these books on your TBR list? Tell us in the comments!

 

 

Benjamin Thomas

@thewritingtrain

http://www.mysterythrillerweek.com

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

Book Review: Superhero Ethics by Travis Smith

SuperHero ethics image

 

 

 

Whether in comic books or on movie screens, superhero stories are where many people first encounter questions about how they should conduct their lives.

Although these outlandish figures—in their capes, masks, and tights, with their unbelievable origins and preternatural powers—are often dismissed as juvenile amusements, they really are profound metaphors for different approaches to shaping one’s character and facing the challenges of life.

But, given the choice, which superhero should we follow today? Who is most worthy of our admiration? Whose goals are most noble? Whose ethics should we strive to emulate?

To decide, Travis Smith takes ten top superheroes and pits them one against another, chapter by chapter. The hero who better exemplifies how we ought to live advances to the final round. By the end of the book, a single superhero emerges victorious and is crowned most exemplary for our times.
How, then, shall we live?

  • How can we overcome our beastly nature and preserve our humanity? (The Hulk vs. Wolverine)
  • How far can we rely on our willpower and imagination to improve the human condition? (Iron Man vs. Green Lantern)
  • What limits must we observe when protecting our neighborhood from crime and corruption? (Batman vs. Spider-Man)
  • Will the pursuit of an active life or a contemplative life bring us true fulfillment? (Captain America vs. Mr. Fantastic)
  • Should we put our faith in proven tradition or in modern progress to achieve a harmonious society? (Thor vs. Superman)

Using superheroes to bring into focus these timeless themes of the human condition, Smith takes us on an adventure as fantastic as any you’ll find on a splash page or the silver screen—an intellectual adventure filled with surprising insights, unexpected twists and turns, and a daring climax you’ll be thinking about long after it’s over.

 

Amazon | Goodreads

 

 

Book Review - 3d rendered metallic typeset

 

 

 

This book was exquisitely delicious in every sense of the word. If I could, I’d rate it with 10 stars from start to finish. Impeccable in presentation, brilliant in theme, and praiseworthy in effect. Ten comic book heros, ten ways to save the world, and which one do we need most now? Author Travis Smith analyzes each superhero pitting them metaphorically against one another; extricating their relevant significance to the human condition, society, politics and virtues to emulate. I’d try to say more, but they’d fail to describe the magnificence of this book. Get yourself a copy!

 

 

 

 

Awesome Word Rubber Stamp 3D Rating Review Feedback

 

 

 

ABOUT THE AUTHOR

Travis Smith received his PhD from Harvard University and is associate professor of political science at Concordia University. He has been collecting comic books since he bought Uncanny X-Men #207 with his allowance in 1986. His writing has appeared in the Weekly Standard and Convivium Magazine.

 

 

 

 

 

Books & Blurbs: A Sharp Solitude by Christine Carbo

Little girl and open book

 

 

“Reading is a conversation. All books talk. But a good book listens as well.” – Mark Haddon

 

 

A Sharp Solitude Christine Carbo

 

 

A gripping new mystery from the “fresh new voice in the thriller genre” (Steve Berry, New York Times bestselling author) and author of The Wild Inside, set in the magnificent and brutal terrain of Glacier National Park—for fans of C.J. Box and Nevada Barr.

 

BLURB

In the darkening days of autumn, in a remote region near the Canadian border, a journalist has been murdered. Anne Marie Johnson was last seen with Reeve Landon, whose chocolate Labrador was part of an article she had been writing about a scientific canine research program. Now Landon is the prime suspect. Intensely private and paranoid, in a panic that he’ll be wrongfully arrested, he ventures deep into in the woods. Even as he evades the detective, Landon secretly feels the whole thing is somehow deserved, a karmic punishment for a horrifying crime he committed as a young boy.

While Montana FBI investigator Ali Paige is not officially assigned to the case, Landon—an ex-boyfriend and the father of her child—needs help. Ali has only one objective for snooping around the edges of an investigation she’s not authorized to pursue: to save her daughter the shame of having a father in jail and the pain of abandonment she endured as a child. As the clock ticks and the noose tightens around Landon’s neck, Ali isn’t sure how far she will go to find out the truth. And what if the truth is not something she wants to know?

A Sharp Solitude is a study of two flawed characters, bonded by a child, trying to make their way in an extraordinary place where escape seems possible. But no one can ever really outrun their demons, even in the vast terrain of Glacier, the ultimate backdrop for a journey of the soul.

 

BLURB RATING – 9/10 

This is a well written blurb that whets your appetite for the story. I love how it begins–“In the darkening days of Autumn, in a remote region near the Canadian border…” I was hooked on the first sentence! You can even say that the first sentence tells a story. You have an interesting setting, a particular season, and dazzling crime to be solved. Boom! Great blurb.

 

First Chapter Impressions 

This is a darling of a first chapter. I love Christine Carbo’s brand of storytelling. Based upon the blurb and the first chapter, this is the story of Reeve Landon and Montana FBI investigator Ali Paige. Told in the first person point of view of Ali Paige you sense that you’re part of the story. Like she’s  sitting right next to you–or better yet, taking you alongside her as the story is told.

It begins with a traumatic experience in Reeve’s childhood, and a sneak peak into his characteristics and personality. Shortly thereafter Reeve and Ali’s relationship is brought into the story with breadcrumbs from Ali’s past. Really looking forward to reading this book!

 

Book Review: The Wild Inside by Christine Carbo – Glacier Mystery Book #1

 

 

 

Christine Carbo author image

 

 

Christine Carbo is the author of The Wild Inside, Mortal Fall, The Weight of Night, and A Sharp Solitude (all from Atria Books/Simon and Schuster) and a recipient of the Womens’ National Book Association Pinckley Prize, the Silver Falchion Award and the High Plains Book Award. After earning a pilot’s license, pursuing various adventures in Norway, and working a brief stint as a flight attendant, she got an MA in English and linguistics and taught college-level courses. She still teaches, in a vastly different realm, as the owner of a Pilates studio. A Florida native, she and her family live in Whitefish, Montana. Find out more at  ChristineCarbo.com

 

 

 

 

Book Review: Jenna’s Case by Andy Siegel

Jennas Case image

 

 

BOOK BLURB

 

A teen-aged girl can be among the most vulnerable of human beings. And the preyed-upon young woman at the dark center of Jenna’s Case is certain to win the heart of readers. Believing Jenna Radcliff to be the victim of a Brooklyn doctor willing to put greed above his oath to do no harm, Tug takes on her case with deeply felt zeal. Yet what he quickly comes to understand is that his new client—once an obviously bright, outgoing girl (and ace neighborhood jump-roper)—is now a nearly mute shadow of her former self. As he proceeds to amass evidence against the conscienceless and defiant surgeon who’d willfully mutilated Jenna, Tug unfortunately soon discovers that the forces set against him are not only more numerous than he’d imagined but also more deadly.

 

Amazon | Goodreads

 

 

Review - 3d rendered headline

 

 

 

Better than expected. I LOVE when that happens. My first read into the Tug Wyler adventurous legal series was an entertaining romp. Tug Tyler is a personal injury lawyer who’s quite an interesting character to say the least. The overall tone is humorous with a good dose of conflict served in various forms. Andy Siegel is a good storyteller who’s witty and has a good knack for storytelling. Jenna is the victim filing a medical malpractice lawsuit against a shady doctor with criminal ties in the neighborhood. This book is full of twists and turns with another spin or two for good measure. My next read is Nelly’s Case. 

 

 

We Recommend!

 

 

 

 

©Michael Paras Photography (973) 476-3988

 

 

Andy Siegel maintains a special commitment to representing survivors of traumatic brain injury in his practice of law. He is on the Board of Directors of the New York State Trial Lawyers Association and of the Brain Injury Association of New York State. His many trial successes have regularly placed those outcomes among the “Top 100 Verdicts” reported in the state annually. A graduate of Tulane University and Brooklyn Law School, he now lives outside of the greater NYC area. 

So how did the colorful, cocky and self-deprecating Tug Wyler come into being? He was hanging around, shadowing my daily life for a long time; I just didn’t know it. But here’s the short version: I shared a trial story with a mom at my kids baseball game who said I should write a book and the idea of him just appeared in my head.

Unable to shake the spell he cast, I began to write, each morning when I got on Metro North, what became my debut novel, Suzy’s Case. But I was doing it only to amuse myself. I didn’t read courtroom mysteries or legal thrillers; as far as I was concerned, I was living them. The rush to cover up genuine wrongs of the sort that lie at the heart of the Tug Wyler Mysteries happens continually out there in the real world. Believe me, fiction doesn’t know the half of it.

Scribner, a Division of Simon & Schuster published Suzy’s Case. My book agent Sterling Lord then penned a deal with Open Road Media and Mysteriouspress.com to publish Cookie’s Case. After requesting and receiving the reversion of my rights on these novels, and after my option with CBS Television to create a one-hour procedural TV show based on the Tug Wyler character expired, I formed Rockwell Press.

For Tug Wyler readers, I promise a mix of rule-bending high-tension conflict during the course of which you’ll laugh in spite of yourself . . . while never knowing what’s going to happen next. Like me, Tug’s the kind of street-smart push-it-to-the-limit lawyer you’d want on your side when the worst has happened.

 

Website |Twitter | Amazon | Goodreads

 

 

 

 

 

 

Author Christina Hoag Discusses her book Girl on the Brink

Various microphones aligned at press conference.

 

 

Interview with Christina Hoag – Girl on the Brink

 

Do you consider yourself locked in to one genre?

I write both adult and YA. What they have in common is that I write contemporary realistic stories about social/moral dilemmas and issues. My adult title “Skin of Tattoos,” where the protagonist is barely out of his teens at age 20, is a gritty tale about gangs, sort of an LA twist on “The Outsiders,” that seeks to delve deeper into the reasons kids join gangs and the consequences of choosing that life.

 

Did Girl on the Brink begin with an idea, theme, or factual events?

This novel was born out of my own experience in an abusive relationship. I really wanted to write about it because being a former journalist I know a good story when I see one and I knew this was a good story, despite the fact that it happened to me. Also, I felt strongly that I wanted to write sort of cautionary tale to alert girls at the beginning of their dating lives to the red flags of dangerous relationships, such as a fast ramp-up of a romance and being pressured quickly to making a commitment. These signs can be easily misinterpreted if you don’t know what they mean. Using the aforementioned example, that can be interpreted as a “whirlwind romance,” like something out of a movie, but it can be someone looking for control. This stuff isn’t taught in schools or anywhere else so girls and women aren’t trained to look for these signs.

 

 

Warning sign red image

 

 

Did you get emotional while writing this title? 

I had enough distance from the actual events not to get emotional, but it did bring back a lot of memories. However, I found that helped me write faster because I just wanted to get through reliving this stuff and have the project done!

 

Who is Chloe?

Chloe is a 17-year- old who wants to be a reporter so she gets a summer internship at the local weekly newspaper, where she meets Kieran on an assignment. She is smart and empathic, but she’s also going through the split of her parents and feels very alone. That makes her lean on Kieran all the more.

 

Who is Kieran?

Kieran is a 19-year- old aspiring actor. As a child, he suffered from an abusive stepfather and a father who left and never returned. So he is torn between loathing his real father for deserting him and desperately wanting his love and approval. This has created a huge insecurity in him, which is reflected in his desire to control and dominate Chloe. Although it’s never stated in the book, Kieran has borderline personality disorder, which is characterized by sudden, terrifying Jekyll-and- Hyde type rages.

 

 

Rage emotion image

 

 

Is Girl on the Brink a standalone or will you write more YA novels?

I’ve got two more YA projects on the burner. Both are realistic contemporary stories that revolve around social issues, teens getting in trouble and learning from their mistakes. Both are also set in the same fictional town of Indian Valley, New Jersey, as Girl on the Brink, and involve some of the same characters.

 

What’s next for you?

I’ve been working on a few short stories and then will likely plunge into a YA novel. I’ve also got two half finished adult novels sitting in my proverbial drawer so I may dust one of those off. But my gut is feeling I should do one of the YAs so that’s what I’ll likely pursue next.

 

 

Girl on the brink audio image

 

 

 

“An engrossing tale of a dangerous teen romance.” – Kirkus Reviews

“Girl on the Brink is a must have for every high school and public library.” – Isabella Kane, author & school librarian

The summer before her senior year, 17-year-old Chloe begins an internship as a reporter for a local newspaper. While on assignment, she meets Kieran, a quirky aspiring actor. Smitten with Kieran’s charisma and his ability to soothe her soul, torn over her parents’ impending divorce, they begin dating.

But as their bond deepens, Kieran becomes smothering and flies into terrifying rages. He confides in Chloe that he suffered a traumatic childhood, and Chloe is moved to help him. If only he could be healed, she thinks, their relationship would be perfect.

But her efforts backfire and Kieran becomes violent. Ending the relationship is hard for Chloe and Kieran pursues her relentlessly to make up.

Now Chloe must make the heartrending choice between saving herself or saving Kieran, until Kieran’s mission of remorse turns into a quest for revenge.

 

Amazon | Goodreads | Audible

 

 

Christina Hoag author image

 

 

As a journalist, Christina Hoag had her laptop searched by Colombian guerrillas and phone tapped in Venezuela, was suspected of drug trafficking in Guyana, hid under a car to evade Guatemalan soldiers, and posed as a nun to get inside a Caracas jail. She’s interviewed gang members, bank robbers, gunmen, thieves and thugs in prisons, shantytowns and slums, not to forget billionaires and presidents, some of whom fall into the previous categories. Now she writes about such characters in her fiction.

Her noir crime novel “Skin of Tattoos” was a finalist for the Killer Nashville Silver Falchion Award for suspense, while her thriller “Girl on the Brink” was named to Suspense Magazine’s Best of 2016 YA list. She also co-authored “Peace in the Hood: Working with Gang Members to End the Violence,” a groundbreaking book on violence intervention used in several universities.

Born in New Zealand, Christina grew up as an expat around the world. She resides in Los Angeles and teaches creative writing at a maximum-security prison. She has also mentored at-risk teen girls in creative writing in South and East Los Angeles. She has been a speaker at numerous writers’ conferences and groups, bookstores, and libraries.

 

Amazon | Goodreads | Website | Facebook

 

 

 

Old steam train

 

Jasper Joffe talks Publishing on the SPF Podcast

IT’S TELEVISION TUESDAY!

 

 

 

Retro TV with an antenna, wooden Cabinet, vintage

 

 

 

Independent author and publisher Jasper Joffe talks about the success his publishing house has had using a model very different to the traditional one.

 

 

 

 

 

I have you read any books published by Jasper Joffe books? Tell us in the comments!

 

Check out Joffe Books!

 

 

Benjamin Thomas

@thewritingtrain

http://www.mysterythrillerweek.com

 

 

 

 

April’s Books and Blurbs

columns of books

 

 

 

 

Rest in Pieces cozy mystery

 

Amazon | Goodreads

 

 

When Beatrice takes on a new case, she must solve it before anyone else rests in pieces.

It’s a beautiful evening for a wedding and Beatrice couldn’t be prouder as the mother of the bride. It’s a happy occasion and a beautiful ceremony—aside from the appearance of the odd and uninvited Ophelia. Ophelia argues with another guest, who is later discovered dead. Beatrice must piece together the truth before the killer strikes again.

 

Blurb grade: 7/10 

I love the contrast here in the blurb. You have a beautiful situation of marriage marred by murder. This definitely piques my interest how the mystery is solved!

 

 

 

Mirror Mirror Legal thriller

 

 

Amazon | Goodreads

 

On the day that Jeff Ryder learns he is going to be made a partner at Warrick, Thompson, and Hayes, his past catches up with him. The State Bar of California accuses him of coaching witness Marty Lewis to lie seven years earlier while he was working as a prosecutor in order to convict small-time con man, Dillon Reese, of the attempted murder of police officer Christopher Rafferty, a former Navy SEAL.

Jeff loses his million-dollar lifestyle, but sets up his own law office, determined to clear his name, by proving Reese is the shooter. Jeff discovers that Chris was wearing defective body armor made by Armor Up Corporation on the night he was shot. Jeff persuades Chris and his wife Beth to bring a negligence suit against Armor Up and the San Diego Police Department for millions in damages. Jeff forms a deep friendship with Chris, but that friendship is challenged with Jeff falls in love with Beth.

On the eve of proving that he never coached Lewis to lie, Jeff is arrested for a double murder. If he uses his alibi, Chris and Beth will be destroyed.

 

Blurb grade: 8/10

For some reason I’ve been really drawn to legal thrillers lately. This one by Deborah Hawkins looks great. The complexity of the plot seems very interesting.

 

 

 

The Library by Stuart Kells

 

 

Amazon | Goodreads

 

“If you think you know what a library is, this marvellously idiosyncratic book will make you think again.” —The Sydney Morning Herald

Libraries are much more than mere collections of volumes. The best are magical, fabled places whose fame has become part of the cultural wealth they are designed to preserve. Some still exist today; some are lost, like those of Herculaneum and Alexandria; some have been sold or dispersed; and some never existed, such as those libraries imagined by J.R.R. Tolkien, Umberto Eco, and Jorge Luis Borges, among others.

Ancient libraries, grand baroque libraries, scientific libraries, memorial libraries, personal libraries, clandestine libraries: Stuart Kells tells the stories of their creators, their prizes, their secrets, and their fate. To research this book, Kells traveled around the world with his young family like modern-day “Library Tourists.” Kells discovered that all the world’s libraries are connected in beautiful and complex ways, that in the history of libraries, fascinating patterns are created and repeated over centuries. More important, he learned that stories about libraries are stories about people, containing every possible human drama.

The Library is a fascinating and engaging exploration of libraries as places of beauty and wonder. It’s a celebration of books as objects, a celebration of the anthropology and physicality of books and bookish space, and an account of the human side of these hallowed spaces by a leading and passionate bibliophile.

 

Blurb grade: 8/10

For anyone who love books and libraries how could you not love this blurb! Even for an author to tackle the breadth and scope of the history of libraries is amazing. Looking forward to reading this one.

 

 

 

Light It up

 

 

Amazon | Goodreads

 

“Lots of characters get compared to my own Jack Reacher, but Petrie’s Peter Ash is the real deal.”—Lee Child

In this action-packed thriller starring war veteran Peter Ash, a well-planned and flawlessly executed hijacking reveals the hidden dangers of Colorado’s mellowest business, but Ash may find there’s more to this crime than meets the eye. 

Combat veteran Peter Ash leaves a simple life rebuilding hiking trails in Oregon to help his good friend Henry Nygaard, whose daughter runs a Denver security company that protects cash-rich cannabis entrepreneurs from modern-day highwaymen. Henry’s son-in-law and the company’s operations manager were carrying a large sum of client money when their vehicle vanished without a trace, leaving Henry’s daughter and her company vulnerable.

When Peter is riding shotgun on another cash run, the cargo he’s guarding comes under attack and he narrowly escapes with his life. As the assaults escalate, Peter has to wonder: for criminals this sophisticated, is it really just about the cash?

After finding himself on the defensive for too long, Peter marshals his resources and begins to dig for the truth in a scheme that is bigger—and far more lucrative—than he’d ever anticipated. With so much on the line, his enemy will not give up quietly…and now he has Peter directly in his sights.

 

 

Blurb grade: 9/10

Author Nick Petrie comes highly recommended so suffice it to say I’m looking forward to it. Peter Ash sounds like a wonderful character. I have nothing to base this on, but just a gut feeling.