IT’S TELEVISION TUESDAY!
HUGE Book Haul Courtesy of Sasha Alsberg on Abooktopia
Do any of these books sound interesting? Have you read any of them? Tell me in the comments!
1. What led you to write a serial killer thriller?
We’ve both always been fascinated by serial killers, both in fiction and non-fiction. I remember reading Red Dragon by Thomas Harris years ago and thinking, “Man, I wish I could write like that.”
2. What was your experience writing this genre compared to your other books?
Our first novel, Casting Shadows Everywhere, is basically a thriller. Since then, we’ve written an urban fantasy series, a post-apocalyptic series, and a slasher horror novel. So going back to a straight thriller felt a little like returning home.
3. Tell us about FBI agent Violet Darger.
She’s tough but damaged. Violet is hard-nosed and driven in her work, and sometimes that intensity is directed at the people around her and results in conflict.
4. Why did you decide Violet would be a rookie agent?
We wanted the first few books to sort of serve as Violet’s origin story, so starting at the beginning of her agent career just made sense.
5. Do you know how many books will be in this series?
Right now we have solid plans for three full length novels, as well as a few novellas. But we intend this series to be open-ended and for each book to be a standalone that could be read out of order.
According to Goodreads
Ruth Jefferson is a labor and delivery nurse at a Connecticut hospital with more than twenty years’ experience. During her shift, Ruth begins a routine checkup on a newborn, only to be told a few minutes later that she’s been reassigned to another patient. The parents are white supremacists and don’t want Ruth, who is African American, to touch their child. The hospital complies with their request, but the next day, the baby goes into cardiac distress while Ruth is alone in the nursery. Does she obey orders or does she intervene?
Ruth hesitates before performing CPR and, as a result, is charged with a serious crime. Kennedy McQuarrie, a white public defender, takes her case but gives unexpected advice: Kennedy insists that mentioning race in the courtroom is not a winning strategy. Conflicted by Kennedy’s counsel, Ruth tries to keep life as normal as possible for her family—especially her teenage son—as the case becomes a media sensation. As the trial moves forward, Ruth and Kennedy must gain each other’s trust, and come to see that what they’ve been taught their whole lives about others—and themselves—might be wrong.
With incredible empathy, intelligence, and candor, Jodi Picoult tackles race, privilege, prejudice, justice, and compassion—and doesn’t offer easy answers. Small Great Things is a remarkable achievement from a writer at the top of her game.
First I wanted to thank Jodi Picoult for taking the time to write such a tremendous book. Jodi, if I ever get the chance to meet you I’ll give you a double high five. This great book is no small thing!
First it took me awhile to get use to the multiple point of views, but once that happened it became the strength of the story. I commend the author for taking head on things that most people try to avoid. Racism. Prejudice. Bias. I certainly try to avoid these topics like the plague instead of facing them.
Small Great Things employs a heavy theme throughout the book. Jodi makes no attempt to skate around the subjects at hand. Honestly, at first I thought it was a little bit over the top; but then I thought about the interaction between Kennedy McQuarrie and Ruth Jefferson. Kennedy a defense lawyer, did not think it was appropriate, necessary, or wise to bring race into the courtroom. Eventually she fully embraces the matter of race in her own life, both personally and professionally. This helped me to embrace the story more on a thematic level. It’ll never be easy to discuss matters of race, but I’m glad somebody did!
I will always reserve a place in my heart for the great story of Ruth, Kennedy, Edison and Turk Bauer. The embody the real life struggles, challenges, and transformation that we all need.
I greatly appreciate Jodi’s ability to capture the reality of each character and reveal them on the page. Weaving together so many elements is not easy for an author.
Each character is symbolic of something deeply rooted in our society. But love overcomes all things.
*All verses are taken from the New Testament Recovery version Bible*
Please welcome Jennifer Irwin author of A Dress the Color of the Sky. The film rights have been sold and the book isn’t even published yet! Wowsers! That’s pretty impressive if I say so myself.
Have you written anything before this book?
No. This is my first novel.
How did you come to teach Pilates?
I retired from working in advertising after my third son was born but still wanted to work part time. I enjoy helping women feel better about themselves and teaching Pilates was a great avenue to fulfill that desire. I have really enjoyed getting to know all sorts of women through being a Pilates teacher.
There is something very fulfilling being able to help others. I’m glad found something that works for you!
How has writing this book help you heal?
Writing is a great creative outlet. I found that the more I put my characters into difficult situations the better I felt. I also enjoyed creating wonderful female friendships for my protagonist, Prudence Aldrich. Women bond through sharing life experiences and it was healing for me to develop female characters who were super supportive of each other.
I find that very interesting. That does sound very healing, in a creative kind of way. Love it.
How can this book help others heal?
A Dress the Color of the Sky is the story of a woman healing from a traumatic childhood. After seeing the astounding response to Kelly Oxford’s tweet about her sexual assault experience I am confident that this story will speak to many women. We are all stronger than we believe and we can’t let difficult experiences ruin our lives. It’s important to heal from the past in order to move forward and lead a healthy, happy life. Healing takes work but with the help of a professional it is possible. Prudence had not dealt with her traumatic childhood and as a result she could not seek out healthy relationships nor could she respect herself.
Several of these statements really resonate on many levels. I believe healing is critical to our going forward in life. There are a few things I’m still healing from myself. Thank you!
What was your response when you realized the story resonated with women?
Over the past few years I have sought input from test readers. I searched for women whom I believed might not choose a novel like mine. One woman in particular was a senior in college and a pre-professional zoology major. I can honestly say that her review is one of my favorites because I was so surprised by how much my book affected her. She not only couldn’t put it down but the story really spoke to her. Honestly, I can’t wait to share it with the world!
That’s awesome! It has to be the most rewarding experience knowing that your words have affected someone the way it did. I’m jealous 🙂
Is it true the rights have been sold for movie production?
Yes! I have sold the feature film rights and A Dress the color of the sky will be made into a major motion picture.
SWEEEEEEETTTT!!!!! I’m so happy for you. You must’ve been thrilled to hear that. I’m thrilled myself and it isn’t even my book!
Tell us about your motivation to get your book published.
When I first started querying agents I literally had no idea what I was doing. I do believe that there are a lot of people out there who will take advantage of an author who is chasing their dream. I encourage all authors to be very careful. My first conundrum was writing the perfect query letter. I was fortunate enough to have my query letter chosen to be critiqued on the blog Query Shark. Although I took a bit of a beating I am grateful for the shark’s input and advise. Once I felt I had the perfect query letter I realized that my book needed work so I halted sending out query’s until I felt more confident in my book. Writer’s Digest has a ice little program where you can pay to have your first few pages critiqued by an agent. I got some great input through this program. All the while, I continued to seek input from test readers to improve my novel. I received some lovely responses from literary agents. Although agents are very intimidating and the publishing business is closed, some are very helpful and nice. I ended up entering a publishing contest in which your book idea is voted on.When you meet certain voting platforms you have to complete homework and get a certain grade to move to the next level. my book ended up being the most voted on book idea in the history of the contest and I was offered a publishing contract. It was right then that I received the film rights offer. i will say that through the publishing contest I learned that most of books marketing falls on the author’s shoulders and how important it is to market your book before it gets published. Entering the publishing contest was one of my best moves towards getting published because I learned a tremendous amount from the publisher about social media and how to market on various platforms. It was really valuable to me. Once I sold the film rights I invested in a writing coach and tore my book apart and rebuilt it. Since then, I have signed with a literary agent and have also received a contract offer from a small indie publisher. I guess this is my long answer to your question and the short answer is never give up!
I love your determination and what you’ve learned of the marketing and publishing experience. This is food for encouragement for us all. Hip-hip hooray!! Keep learning.
How did the sample readers relate to the main character?
Since seeking out test readers, I have only received one negative critique and i was from a woman my writing coach chose who never reads fiction. Other than that, every single test reader has related to my book and to the protagonist. I would say the man connection is that pretty much every single human on earth has endured some form of child abuse whether it be something small or big. There’s a scene in my book where Prudence is told to eat everything on her plate. I think most people can relate to having to eat something displeasing when they were a child. I think the other way people relate to Prudence is by reading what she’s thinking in her head which I do a lot in the book. That voice we all have in our head that can be a little mean at times. Everyone seems to relate to that.
I can understand and relate to the statements here. Everyone has some form of abuse, wound, or pain of some sort. Sometimes it’s very obvious, sometimes it’s well hidden. In my childhood we were “spanked” pretty heavily; which would be easily considered child abuse by today’s standards. You also mentioned the point of view that we would relate to. I always find this aspect of a character the most rewarding experience. To feel, experience, see as they do. I recently heard an interesting statement from a sign at my son’s school. It read: “be careful how you speak to your child, because it will become their inner voice.”. What a statement! So true. That becomes the voice that we tend to hear in our heads.
How has conducting research affected your understanding of the main character?
Although I can’t really understand exactly how it feels to be an addict I have learned a lot about how addicts recover and heal. There is a saying,”once an addict always an addict” so the work is there every single day which is why AA follows the motto, “one day at a time.” I read every book on sex addiction by Patrick Carnes who is an expert in the field. His assistant recently asked me for an advanced copy of my book which is very exciting. I attended a variety of meetings through the AA program and spoke to many people in recovery. I’d say the best research I did was by accident because my father was a drug addict and alcoholic. I learned through experience how his addiction affected myself, my family and my father.
I appreciate the research you’ve put into this project. It’ll definitely show when people begin to read your work.
When you saw people being rehabilitated what was your experience?
Recovering from an addiction takes a tremendous amount of work. it appears to me that success happens when there is a large community of sober people helping. The relapse rate for recovered addicts who stay longer in after care is less than those who try to white knuckle it alone after a ninety day inpatient treatment program. I tried to be careful with all of this and to respect the recovery process in my book. The best results happen with complete immersion in the program. There needs to be a total lifestyle shift and that takes time and commitment. I also learned that addiction does not discriminate and affects a wide cross section of genders, ages and socioeconomic backgrounds. I doubt that you will meet anyone who has not either directly or indirectly been affected by addiction.
May many people read and find the stubborn wings of hope through the message you send through this book.
Speak about the power of addiction and the concepts about rehabilitation.
Since I do not have a degree in addiction recovery, nor am I a therapist, I am not comfortable speaking in depth about the concept of rehabilitating an addict. I am simply an author who has been affected by addiction and wrote a novel about an addict. I really can’t give sage professional advice to anyone because I am not trained to do so. From a laymen point of view, addiction is a very powerful thing that I cannot personally understand because I am not an addict. It does seem to be very, very powerful to those who are in recovery.
Well said. I think of all the people who are under the relentless power of addiction. May they really find the help that they need.
What message is sent through the main character?
The message sent through the main character is that traumatic childhood experiences can change how you feel about yourself. Because Prudence was abused she viewed herself as a victim. As a result, she was not equipped to choose a healthy partner to share her life with and she didn’t have the strength to endure difficult situations that can arise in relationships. Prudence needed to let go of the shame put on her during her childhood in order to heal and find self love. If a person does not heal from their past they cannot seek out healthy relationships because they are not healthy themselves.
I love this! Very therapeutic.
When will your book be published?
I should be making a decision on who will be publishing my book within the next few months. Once I sign the publishing contract I will have a release date which I can’t wait to announce!
We’ll be desperately waiting.
What’s your next writing project?
I am pitching to write the screenplay with the help of a very accomplished television writer who believes that I have the talent to be a strong contender. Writing the screenplay would be a dream come true! I am also putting together an outline for my next novel which will be a stand alone sequel to A Dress the Color of the Sky.
That sounds really fun. Keep us posted on your progress, we’d love to hear about it.
Summary from Goodreads:
Fourteen year-old Bernard
Fourteen year-old Bernard is full of out of the box ideas—ideas that nobody appreciates. Not his ultra-rational father, not his classmates, and definitely not his teacher, who’s fed up waiting for Bernard’s overdue science project. You’d think with a hotshot quantum physicist for a dad, the assignment would be easy as “pi”, but with his relationship with his father on rocky ground, Bernard is under more pressure than a helium atom.
And Bernard’s impulse control flies out the window when he’s stressed. So instead of turning in his project, he moons the class and gets suspended. Now his dad’s got no choice but to bring him to his work. At the Atom Smasher. It’s the chance of a lifetime for Bernard, who knows smashing atoms at the speed of light can—theoretically—make wormholes. How about that for the most mind-bending science project ever? But when he sneaks into the particle accelerator and someone hits the power button, Bernard ends up in the last place he’d ever want to be.
Inside his father’s brain.
And it’s nothing like the spongy grey mass Bernard studied at school. It’s a galaxy, infinite and alive. Like, people live there. A mysterious civilization on the brink of extinction, as unaware of their host as he is of them. But there’s zero time to process this. Bernard’s about to be caught up in an epic war between the two sides of his dad’s brain over their most precious resource:
With his father’s life at stake, Bernard must go up against the tyrannical left side of his father’s brain to save the dying, creative right side. But how the heck is he supposed to do that when he’s just a hopelessly right-brained kid himself? (less)
ADD TO GOODREADS: Brainwalker
What a fascinating read! I enjoyed the romp through the Brainiverse that Bernard takes us on in order to save his Dad, and even himself. He goes on quite an adventure to both sides on his Father’s brain in efforts to restore peace, communication and unity between the two cerebral hemispheres, Reezon and Intuit.
The authors do a great job of taking complicated brain science and turning it into an entertaining story to read. From neurons, microorganisms and organelles, it has it all.
May this book raise your appreciation for neuroscience, physiology, the nervous system, not to mention the balance of intuition and logic within all of us.
She is represented by the stellar Kathleen Rushall of Andrea Brown Literary Agency
Blog Tour organized by: YA Bound Book Tours
The Row by J.R. Johansson
Genre: YA Mystery
Release Date: October 11th 2016
Summary from Goodreads:
A death sentence. A family torn apart. One girl’s hunt for the truth. Seventeen-year-old Riley Beckett is no stranger to prison. Her father is a convicted serial killer on death row who has always maintained that he was falsely accused. Riley has never missed a single visit with her father. She wholeheartedly believes that he is innocent.
Then, a month before the execution date, Riley’s world is rocked when, in an attempt to help her move on, her father secretly confesses to her that he actually did carry out the murders.
He takes it back almost immediately, but she cannot forget what he’s told her. Determined to uncover the truth for her own sake, she discovers something that will forever change everything she’s believed about the family she loves.
*Who’s your favorite football team?
I’m an absolute freak about the Green Bay Packers. I never miss a game. I usually go out to Green Bay for several games a year, I own stock in the organization, and I helped my son decorate his entire room green and yellow. 😉
Cheesehead, eh? I’m a 49er’s fan!
*What initially drew you to write?
The first time I sat down and started writing, I did it as an escape. My life was stressing me out and I had this idea in my mind that just wouldn’t go away. I thought maybe if I wrote it down, it might help, so I did. Not only did it help my stress, but I found something I loved more than I ever would have imagined.
I had the same experience. Beginning with simple escapism in poetry then morphing into full blown fiction.
*Why have you chosen to write YA?
Teen years are so formative. They are one of the first times we all start trying to identify and establish ourselves and our independence. We begin to figure out who we are and create and define ourselves. I think we continue to do that again and again at various points for the rest of our lives and so it’s easy to identify with. I love writing characters in that kind of flux and transition. It creates beautifully poignant conflict and tension.
Wonderful! Conflict and tension is the name of the game.
*How do you craft your characters?
I try to start with someone real and flawed and then try to get into their heads. I create their backstory and try to figure out what having a history like the one I gave them would do to these people. I basically just work to make them whole and breathe life into them.
We all love real and flawed characters. You can’t go wrong there!
*What is it about psychology that you enjoy employing in your writing?
I think this ties into the characters question because my psychology background helps me analyze the way a background would make a character who they are. It also helps me get into flaws and communication skill sets and all kinds of stuff to make both characters and relationships well rounded.
I love this. Your way of crafting characters is very fascinating.
*Who’s your favorite character you’ve ever created?
Wow…hard choice. I’m going to name a couple and say why because picking one is just too hard. Finn (Night Walkers’ Series) is the most fun. Piper (Cut Me Free) is the toughest. And Riley (The Row) has the biggest heart.
Awesome. I can’t wait to read all of your books!!
*As a reader, who are your top 3 favorite characters and what do you appreciate about them?
Peeta – (The Hunger Games) because he was vulnerable in a position that made everyone else hard.
Caymen – (The Distance Between Us) because I don’t know if I’ll ever find a better depiction of my ideal sense of humor anywhere else.
Adelina – (The Young Elites) because she’s the absolute best anti-hero I’ve ever seen and I love her for it.
Vulnerability, humor, and the anti-hero.
*Tell us about the protagonist in your new book.
Riley has walls up pretty high. She’s spent all her life defending her father and having people slander him and her whole family in front of her (and behind her back). She loves her father and believes that he’s innocent. This situation has flipped her perspectives in some interesting ways. She doesn’t trust police or the justice system. She has nightmares of the police coming to her house at night to steal her parents away. She’s very close to her father, but has more normal growing pains in her relationship with her mother. Her whole life was put on hold when her father went to prison and she and her mother have spent years with their lives in limbo as they fight to set him free. So when Riley starts to doubt her father, it sends her whole world spiraling out of control. She’s good, and loyal, and fierce in a situation where no one expects her to be. I loved writing her because it gave me a chance to expose and explore some things in our society that I don’t agree with. Often children and families of criminals are treated like they are guilty too, that they should’ve known and are somehow also responsible. I also got to ask some questions about how we can really be sure that we truly know anyone—or what they’re capable of. These topics fascinate me.
Totally agree. The story has a great premise and very interesting protagonist.
*You seem to write with powerful themes in your stories; I suspect you’re a very passionate person. What’s your process for selecting theme?
I do tend to gravitate toward powerful themes and I am a passionate person. I’m afraid my process for selecting a theme is far from scientific though. I like to expose myself to as much life as I can. I watch tv, movies, travel, go to the park and watch people, read the news and books. Then I wait for something to strike a particular chord. When it happens and I find myself really wanting to dive into researching a topic or issue more than normal, then I know it’s one I might want to write about.
LOVE IT. These are the best stories written by the best kinds of authors.
*Have you ever cried while writing? If so, what was your experience?
Yes, actually. The last two books: Cut Me Free and The Row. With both, it has been in a part of the story near the climax where I’m particularly connected to the characters and they’re at their lowest point. I also get a little choked up when I’m writing the end. The most emotional moments for my characters set me off a bit, but I think it usually means I’m getting that emotion to come through on the page in a good way as well, so I’m happy about it.
You gotta love emotion, it’s the currency of all fiction.
*What have you experienced or learned in writing this book as opposed to your other series and stand-alones?
The experience with this book has taught me to be flexible because I basically went through three different editors over the course of working on it. That’s unusual for me, so it took a bit of adjusting. I’m really happy with the way it turned out though. It was also my first mystery, which meant the tension changed a bit as opposed to my thrillers. The main character was in less danger than I was used to, so it forced me to run the story a little differently. I think I’m a better writer for the experience.
I like the idea of being a flexible writer. Crafting these kinds of stories are great exercise.
*I can tell you enjoy writing about the deep complexities of human life. Can you bring us into your mindset on this?
People fascinate me. They always have. I remember as a kid looking at a stranger walking down the street and thinking that it felt so random that I was in my body, in my life, and they were in theirs. I used to imagine being in their body. Would I be taller, would my arms be longer, what would the world look like from their perspective? I use this in my writing constantly. We all have struggles. We all have our own pain and triumph. I like to dig around in that and try to see the strength in human flaws and frailty. Through that lens is where we really capture the beauty of humanity.
We must be twins separated at birth!! People fascinate me as well. I love to connect with people on different levels. FUN!
*What do you have next coming down the pike?
I’m currently working on another standalone thriller and a couple of middle grade projects, so watch for news on those soon!
We’ll put out a BOLO for all of your upcoming projects. THANK YOU SO MUCH.
*How did you go from writing historical nonfiction to fiction?
After finishing my latest nonfiction history book, World 2.0: A History from Enlightenment to Terrorism and Beyond, which had taken me more than three years to write and research, I was actually planning to take a small break. But as I watched Donald Trump rise in the Republican primaries, I began thinking about how incredibly high the stakes would be if he actually became the Republican nominee, how the entire country could be swayed into one of two very different directions and how the course of history is often determined by just one person. Truth is, I had come upon many Donald Trumps while writing World 2.0. Of course, if one man can change the world, it also takes just one man to stop him. And that is how the story of The Dog and its Day was born.
It’s amazing how one person can affect the world and turn it upon its hinges.
*Can you note the differences you experienced?
Interestingly enough, the difference between fiction and nonfiction was far smaller than I had expected. In the last six months of working on my history book, I sometimes fantasized about finally being able to throw off the constraints of having to research and double-check every single fact. In fiction, I thought, I could do whatever I wanted, I would finally be the king of my own universe! But when I started writing The Dog and its Day—actually even before that, when I was still just thinking about the story—I realized that for me at least, the main difference would be to recalibrate reality a few degrees. When it comes to thrillers, I was never that interested in outlandish stories where the villains do unspeakable things. In The Dog and its Day, I wanted to explore how an assassination plot on Donald Trump would be conceived, planned and executed. That turned out to take quite a lot of research as well, but at least I didn’t have to name sources, write footnotes and create an index anymore.
That’s awesome. I’m writing a my first fictional piece and hope to pen nonfiction one day.
*Does your book explore a particular theme?
One man can change history. Nothing is set in stone and history does repeat itself.
This is very fascinating. I guess it all depends on who is changing history and how they’re doing it.
*What can you tell us about these two billionaires and their relationship with one another?
They are lifelong friends who together founded a coal-mining company 30 years ago and expanded it into a global empire in the decades that followed. They have had people standing in the way of their business interests eliminated before. When one of them suggests to have the Republican nominee assassinated, the other first recoils, but then he realizes the time for moral objections has long since passed.
Sounds like a great premise! Two power hungry billionaires with their own agenda.
*Tell us three things about Ronald Drump.
He is the Republican nominee for president. A New York real estate developer without any political experience. He is brash, arrogant, notoriously unreliable and far behind in the polls when the two billionaires decide to have him eliminated.
Well, may the odds ever be in his favor.
*Tell us three things about Valery Clayton.
She is the Democratic nominee for president. Her husband, Richard Clayton, was President in the 1990s. She has vowed to close all coal mines in the United States if elected.
I’m surprised they the billionaires wouldn’t have her assassinated instead. Especially if she’s trying to close the coal mines!
*How meticulous is this legendary assassin?
He is the kind of man who, if he had an unforeseen chance to take out his mark with a 9mm handgun in a dark forest with nobody else around, would still do nothing more than mumble a greeting and walk on, if he had planned to take him out a day later with a .300 Winchester Magnum from 800 yards away.
I’ve always thought assassins were cool for some reason. It must be the nature of the job and how they manage to get away with it, or not.
*If you were Ronald Drump and realized an attempt on your life what would you do?
Probably the same as what the real Republican nominee, Donald Trump, has done. Hire extra private security—much to the dismay of the Secret Service.
Yikes! Sounds like a high stress job. Whew.
*If you had opportunity to change the world as Drump, Clayton, the billionaires, or the assassin which person would you be?
The billionaires and the assassin can only stop someone else from becoming President of the United States. I would prefer to be in power myself.
*What is your favorite time period in history?
I find that once you start digging and are transported back in time, each period has its own unique stories to tell and adventures to share. Fourteenth century France might seem less interesting than World War II at first glance, but once you start exploring the Hundred Years’ War and the Black Death and it all comes to life again, it quickly become another favorite period in history.
It would be adventurous to be a time traveler and go back to observe how things unfolded personally.
*Will you write more political thrillers?
I already have a new plot. One that strikes at the heart of the presidency and puts the President in an impossible situation. So yes.
YES. More political thrillers! Keep us posted!
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Sharon Loves Books: books are my bag
Freelance writer, blogger, novelist
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