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CRIMINAL Excerpt/Author Interview/Giveaway!!!

Criminal-Low-Res-Cover

Following the horrors she discovered in the basement of Sanctuary at the end of Breeder, there is no longer any doubt in Pria’s mind that the Unified World Order is wicked. But convincing the rest of the world will be another story. When it’s revealed the files she’d stolen from Sanctuary are worthless, Pria and the other Free Patriots must scramble to come up with another way to convince everyone to rise up in open revolution before the UWO’s monsters destroy them all. But Pria’s tenuous grasp of human nature complicates her role in the rebellion as she finds herself torn between Pax, her ever-present protector, and Henri, her good-natured friend.

A new scheme to infiltrate the seemingly impregnable UWO machine places Pria once again at the centre of the plan. This time, though, she must be willing to erase her identity, It’s a sacrifice she thinks she’s ready to make, but she has no idea just how difficult it will be.

 

Welcome to the GTB blog tour of CRIMINAL by KB Hoyle. The title is actually an acrostic:

C is for Commune. Pria and some others go on a mission to Denver Commune.

R is for Remembrance. Pria struggles to remember who she is.

I is for Incriminating evidence. Pax goes to trial and Etienne stand trial.

M is for Making a move. The Free Patriots decide to make their move against the UWO.

I is for Illness. Pax hides a mystery illness.

N is for New friends. Pria makes a couple of new friends at Asylum.

A is for Awkward romantic tension between Pria and Pax, and Pria and Henri.

L is for Love. Pria learns what love is.


 

Here is an exclusive excerpt:

I wake confused and chilled to the bone. My blankets have slid to the floor off the side of the bed, and the air in the cave feels like it’s dropped ten degrees since the day before. I scoot to the edge of the bed to try to retrieve my blankets, but I hear a gravelly voice say, “I’ll get them. Don’t move.”

A moment later, Henri spreads them back over me, and I smile in gratitude. The lights are dim and everything is quiet, but I hear soft breathing on my other side as well. I look over to see Pax, fast asleep. They’ve both stayed the night.

“How are you feeling?” Henri asks in the same gravelly whisper. “Need more pain medication?”

“No,” I whisper back. Whatever they gave me, it must have been strong. I can feel only a dull ache beneath the fresh wrappings on my thigh and wrist. “What time is it?”

“Almost morning.” Henri rubs a hand over my buzzed hair. A smile tugs at the corners of his mouth. “You’re almost as bald as I am,” he says. “Still beautiful, though.” He leans down and presses his lips to my forehead.

I’m too stunned to say anything, but I shrink back slightly, into my pillow. His familiarity confuses me, sets me on edge, even as it also spreads warmth through me. I glance over at Pax, prompting Henri to do the same. He straightens and, without another word, returns to his chair. It’s identical to the one Pax is slumped in, asleep with his hand on his forehead.

I try to turn over onto my side and find I can’t. Movement in my injured leg is restricted and painful. I sigh in frustration. My back hurts from lying in one position for too long, and I’m certain I won’t be able to fall back asleep.

Henri said it’s almost morning. What will the morning hold? Release from the infirmary, hopefully. Holly’s test before Luther? Probably. If he didn’t see to that last night while I slept. I wonder if he’ll want Pax and me to participate in her interrogation.

I’m surprised Luther hasn’t come to see me yet. I would think he’d be interested in the intelligence he sent me into Sanctuary to retrieve. Maybe he’s too distracted with the files transferred via the hack.

Someone pushes a cart past the curtain of my room, and the wheels clatter over the uneven rocky floor. All I can see of it are the glinting silver spokes. Who else is here, injured, with me? What do these people do all the time?

It strikes me how little I actually know about the people with whom I’ve chosen to identify.

“Henri?” I whisper. “Are you still awake?”

“Hmmm.” He sounds just barely so.

“Did Holly get her wrist treated last night? She’s not in a holding cell, is she?”

“Probably, yeah. But don’t worry. They’ll have taken care of her wrist.”

I chew my lip, thinking, remembering what it was like for me when I first left Sanctuary. “She’s going to be confused, you know . . . scared. I hope I can see her today.”

There’s a rustle of clothing as Henri leans forward. “What makes you think you can trust her, Pria? Isn’t it kind of convenient that she just showed up right before you fled Sanctuary? How do you know she’s not a spy for the UWO?”

I wrinkle my nose. “Don’t do that.”

“Do what?”

“Try to make me doubt her. You weren’t there when we were trying to escape. I think she’s telling the truth.”

“If she’s not, we’re all screwed. There are any number of ways she could lead them right to us, and we’d never know it.”

“Stop.” I put my hands over my eyes. “You sound like Etienne.”

Another rustle of clothing and I feel Henri’s shadow fall over me. Then his cold hands touch mine, prying them away from my face. “Look at me, Pria.”

“No!” I struggle, but I don’t know why.

“Look at me!”

He wrenches my arms apart, and for a moment all I see is Henri’s friendly face twisted into an ugly grimace. Then he turns his head, and the dim light glints off a spot of gold in his ear.

Etienne.

I shriek and flail, but he’s holding my arms too tight for me to get away. I fling my head to the side, looking for Pax, but his chair is empty. The chill in the cave bites my skin, which is exposed. I’m dressed in only my undergarments.

“You can’t smuggle a bomb in here without my knowing it. There’s one easy way to find out if you’re a spy.” Etienne pins both my arms above my head with one hand and takes up a scalpel in the other. “I just have to perform a quick procedure.”

He draws the blade down my stomach, and the skin springs apart like a severed wire. The pain is excruciating, unbearable, beyond articulation. I watch in horror as he flings the blade aside, sending flecks of my blood flying across the room, and then digs his hand into the incision. He retracts his hand a moment later, holding a fist-sized metal contraption.

“See?” he shouts. “It’s a bomb! You were going to blow us all up!”

“No! I swear!”

A switch on the side of the bomb ticks up, and red lights start to blink. Faster, and faster, and faster.

“Now we’re all going to die,” Etienne says.

I scream. 


 

Below is an interview with the author, and at the end of the post there is a link to a GIVEAWAY!

kb_hoyle

 

 

 

 

Is there a message in your novel that you want readers to grasp? 

There are several messages, really, in Criminal, that I want my readers to grasp, but as an author, I never want the message to overtake the primary function of the novel—which is to entertain the reader. So obviously first and foremost, I want to just tell a good story, and for my reader to be carried along by the story and to have a good time reading it. As far as the message/messages go, I’d say the primary one in Criminal has to do with identity. I sought to answer the question of what makes us human? The main character, Pria, is faced with this question over and over in the story, even to the point where, by the end, her entire reality is shaken by some presuppositions she has about this question. Pria has to discover her personal identity, but she also has to figure out what she believes about the identity of others, and what that means about the human race and her part in the rebellion against the Unified World Order. These are big issues, and things I think we should all think about, even though we’re not living in a dystopian society.

 

How much of the book is realistic? 

I’d say this book is about 50% realistic. Obviously all the characters and the plot are fictionalized (and the concept of the Golems), but I base my settings and my conceptions of the future society off research I did into real technologies, conspiracy theories, my own knowledge of Denver and its surrounding areas, and just basic knowledge of human nature and my thoughts on future trends in society. I could see some of the sorts of things I write about coming to pass. Actually, some of the things I have written about in my books have come to pass already in the years since I started researching them. It’s a little frightening.

 

If you had to do it all over again, would you change anything in your latest book? 

This is a difficult question! Because by the time you get a book all the way to publication—especially when it has taken a long time (as this book has)—you tend not to wish that you could go back and change things. And my editing team does such a fantastic job of helping me tweak things. Hmmm. I guess, maybe, if I could go back, I would make the first act of the book a little shorter (so as to get to the main action faster), and the last act longer (so as to draw out the finale).

 

Can you share a little of “Criminal” with us? 

Here’s a short excerpt from what was one of my absolute favorite scenes to write. It falls about mid-story, and I won’t say too much so as not to spoil things, but this is a scene where Pria and Pax and some others from the rebel Nest Asylum are being attacked by Golems. It’s absolute chaos, and in the midst of it all, Pax and Pria get separated from the others. 

My spine grates over hard rock, and then my breath whooshes out of me as we leave the ground. For a moment, I think a Golem has lifted us, but then I hit a patch of gravel, hard, and my head cracks against a stone. With Pax on top of me, I can hardly breathe, and starbursts fill my vision.

The forest lights up with more starbursts and the zip-zip-zip of energy guns.

“Pria!” Pax slaps my cheek. He rolls off me, and I can breathe again. “Are you hurt? Can you hear me?”

The trees are lighting up. It’s beautiful.

“Pria!”

I cough and rake air into my lungs. I cough again and nod. Nodding hurts.

Aircraft circle above the trees like birds of prey, firing down on the Golems. One flies low, and a Golem snatches it out of the air. With a roar and a vicious shake, it flings the craft to the ground. The craft explodes, and bits of burning metal and flesh scatter, some of it reaching Pax and me where we lie just below a shelf of rock. I raise my arms to cover my face, but Pax leans over me, taking the brunt of it. A piece of something red-hot lands on my calf, and I kick it off.

More shots echo through the woods, followed by bellows and crashes. The Golems are being taken out.

I struggle to sit up, and Pax pulls me to his chest. “It will be over soon,” he says in my ear. He sounds so assured.

 

Is there anything you find particularly challenging in your writing? 

I used to find it challenging to discipline myself to do the planning and research I needed to work out a novel before I started writing it, so that would have been my old answer to this question, but I’ve progressed enough in my career now (I’ve written 9 novels—8 published and 1 on deck) that I’ve found my writing rhythm. I know the drill. I know how to research and outline and plan. I actually really relish all those steps. And I know when to start writing. All of that is, quite frankly, more or less easy. What is particularly challenging is my schedule—finding the time and just fighting exhaustion to get it all done. With four small children to mother (all boys and all 9 and under), a day job as a teacher, my website and social media platforms to manage, trips and speaking engagements to manage, my house to (attempt to) keep clean, meals to cook, and just all the regular things in life to get around to, the challenges I face are never (or rarely) IN the actual writing. The challenges are external to the writing, but they affect the writing. Finding the right balance where I can get all the work done and still get sleep and maintain healthy relationships and good health is difficult.

 

What were the challenges (research, literary, psychological, and logistical) in bringing “Criminal” to life?

Aside from the external challenges mentioned above, I didn’t have too many of these challenges in bringing Criminal to life. It did take me much longer to write Criminal than it usually takes me to write a book, but that’s because I had just had a baby and was nursing at the time. I also battled a bout of post-partum depression while trying to write the book, which didn’t help me to be very productive, but on the other hand, staying actively engaged in a creative project was good for me at the time in battling depression. I didn’t have too much extra research to do because I was just building on the research and world-building I had already done for Breeder. I’d spent about three years prepping this whole series, The Breeder Cycle, so writing Criminal was really just a matter of going back to my notes and making sure I was still on track and following the plan.


Click the link below to be entered in the GIVEAWAY! One lucky reader will win a print copy of Criminal and Breeder by K.B. Hoyle!! Good luck!

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Exclusive Interview with Author Serena Cairns

father of lies

Something unspeakable has lain beneath an ancient Norfolk church for centuries. Its discovery now forces an unconventional female priest to take on an ancient religious order and brave Hell itself – or are they one and the same adversary? What begins as a supernatural story evolves into a mystery that has stretched over centuries, and a hidden prophesy that completely re-shapes the Church of Rome.

 

 

We had an opportunity to score an exclusive interview with author Serena Cairns about her new book, FATHER OF LIES.  It’s a winner: Goodreads and Amazon have plenty of 5 star reviews about this thrilling novel.  Let’s see what she has to say:

How did ‘Father of Lies’ come about?

            It began as just something to read out at the writers’ group I was attending. As the weeks went by and the feedback was so encouraging, I needed to plan the storyline properly. Looking back at the original synopsis, I realise I had no clue as to the ultimate outcome of the book, nor the amazing journey it would take me on to get there. It begins rather like an old Hammer movie, but evolves into a Dan Brown-style conspiracy, only with far less running about. I had no intention of writing for that genre, but the story led me in that direction. I merely put it on paper. I have no desire to write great literature, but exciting page-turners, and grammar and sentence structure are incredibly important to me.

 

Would you term your book a horror story?

            Definitely not! There are elements to it that might be horrific, but I have deliberately understated some scenes. It was not my intention to go into gory description. Usually, such details are better left to the reader’s imagination.

 

Who or what would you consider has influenced your work?

Having been a lifelong lover of films, hours spent at the cinema in my youth gave me a foundation in ‘scene-turners’, and I see my writing in cinematic terms. I shift scenes frequently to keep the action going, drawing upon facts to keep the fiction credible. There is probably a long ladder of influences leading to each author’s style, no matter how original they believe themselves to be.

 

Your book involves the Holy Roman Catholic Church. Were you ever worried it might offend anyone?

            My original draft was much more controversial. In fact, I rang Dan Brown’s UK agent to ask if they’d had any trouble with the Vatican. After all, I didn’t want the Opus Dei knocking on my door. Although the man I spoke to said he couldn’t discuss Dan Brown or his books, when I told him about ‘Father of Lies’, he just said, ‘Don’t go there – not unless you have a lot of money behind you’. I went into meltdown. The book was finished and, as far as I was concerned, ready for publication. However, as is often the case with seeming disasters, it turned out to be beneficial. I merely made some changes, all of which added to and improved the original, and I am far happier with the finished story. I certainly have no wish to offend anyone, and must stress that ‘Father of Lies’ is a work of fiction. Funnily enough, I’ve had positive feedback from members of the Church of England, even clergy.

 

The book is very character driven. Where or how did you come up with those characters?

            I never seem to have a problem introducing new characters. In fact, I have to be quite strict with myself not to over-populate a story. I probably had most difficulty with the Rev. Laura Coatman, as I have little experience of priests, female or otherwise. It was difficult for me to empathise with her until the final draft, where a few small changes made all the difference. I have never understood why I find it much easier to write from a male perspective. The most interesting character, from my point of view, is Monsignor Benvenuti. In film terms, he was introduced as an ‘extra’ to fulfil his given task and fade into the background. He was having none of it, and became a major player. There was one instance where I typed his words, and then sat back, shocked, saying out loud, ‘Well, I didn’t expect that’. I love it when characters seem to take on a life of their own. It is the interaction between my characters that made ‘Father of Lies’ a joy to write, and seems to strike a chord with its readers.

      

Did ‘Father of Lies’ require a lot of research on the Vatican and the supernatural?

            Very little on the supernatural, as it has always been a fascination of mine, although I did look up a few serpent references. I came up with far more than I could use, and had to keep reminding myself I was writing fiction, not a reference book. I read up on the Vatican and the history of the popes, but again, the amount of material I could use far outweighed what I should. I knew the final chapters had to be set in Rome, but was horrified when, halfway through the book, two of my characters decided to go to the Eternal City. ‘Come back’, I called, but they didn’t listen, so I was forced to research Rome. A writer needs just enough facts to flesh out and make a story credible, without swamping the reader with information that has no direct bearing on the story. I didn’t want to sound like a guide book, but needed to give a flavour of the city. A fine line. I have since found a book that gives a lot of information on the everyday life of a pope, but hopefully I can draw upon it to colour the sequels.

 

So there is going to be a sequel?

            Most definitely. ‘Father of Lies’ stands alone, but there has been feedback that suggests people want more, and my characters have more to tell. I am currently writing ‘Set in Time’, which takes place in Rome and Egypt, and hope to complete the trilogy with ‘Leviathan’.

 

Do you think the Pope would enjoy ‘Father of Lies’?

            Maybe. I’d like to think he might chuckle.

 

serena

 

 

 

 

 

You can check out the author’s webpage here.

If you are ready to grab your own copy of FATHER OF LIES you can get it [easyazon_link identifier=”B00YYN10EE” locale=”US” nw=”y” tag=”gimmethatbook-20″]here[/easyazon_link].

Q&A with FAIRMIST author, Todd Fahnestock

Fairmist website

The Debt of the Blessed:

Within the Thiaran Empire, citizens put on jeweled masks and turn away from those who are taken. As long as one child is sacrificed each month to the Slinks and nobody interferes, their society will thrive.

But seventeen-year-old Grei’s mind is alive with treason, and he plunges into the heart of a prophecy that will drive the Slinks back to their fiery dimension. All he must do is travel to the capitol city and sacrifice one last innocent. As Grei wrestles with the prophecy and battles those who would kill him, he hurtles toward his final decision: save the empire, or save his own soul.

 

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GTB was lucky enough to score an exclusive Q&A with author Todd Fahnestock! Here, he talks with us about his latest novel, FAIRMIST.

How did you come up with the idea for Fairmist?

Because of a girl. (Ain’t that always the way?) Back when I thought up the concept for Fairmist, most things were driven by a girl or the thought of a girl. Love lost. Or love that was never had in the first place. Fairmist was about the latter. I was enthralled with this amazing, sensual woman when I was in college. We had a smattering of passionate nights, but never officially dated. And so I thought up the idea: What if this mystical woman really did want to be with me but couldn’t because of a world-destroying prophecy that held her back? No spoilers here, as that’s not how the prophecy ended up working in the later drafts of the novel, but it was what precipitated the story.

 

Why Fairmist? Why not some other book?

The theme of the book is so applicable to our current world. And I love the medium of fantasy to give larger-than-life examples of our modern day troubles. Fairmist is all about lies and deception, and there are so many lies in our society. Some of them we swallow whole without ever questioning them. We accept the reality that is presented to us, go along with it just as long as it’s familiar, even if it’s terrible. It makes me think of that scene from the Batman movie The Dark Knight, where the Joker is talking about how people don’t freak out if things go to plan, even if the plan is horrifying.

 

Tell me about the Ringblades.

The Ringblades were a surprise to me. There is a cadre of swordsmen/policemen in the story called the Highblades that are ubiquitous in the story. Highblades are all men, and one day while rough drafting in my friend’s basement, the Ringblades popped up in the story as a counterpoint to the Highblades: an imperial cadre of assassins who are all women. Initially, I intended them to be cold-hearted and ruthless. In the end, they morphed into this wonderfully vulnerable and utterly badass group who care for each other and believe wholeheartedly in their mission in the world. They became integral to the story.

 

Who was the hardest character to write?

Grei, the protagonist, was by far the most difficult. In the early drafts, the side characters hijacked the novel. They were colorful and compelling and they stole the show. They drove all the action, which caused the novel to sag because the protagonist was just along for the ride. It put me in a pickle that took me fourteen drafts to fix. It was a growth moment for me as a writer. These days, I keep a close eye on my side characters. If they start taking over I either lash them to the novel’s purpose or thrust them into the protagonist role to see how they like it.

 

Who was the easiest character to write?

Blevins leapt off the page from the start. He wrote himself, with his angry, uncaring attitude, his mystery, and his ultra competence. He would be the type of friend that would frustrate me to have, as he’d never commit to helping you with anything, but when you were totally in over your head, he would be the one to save you.

 

Who is your favorite author?

When I was a teenager, all I read was fantasy. Piers Anthony, Terry Brooks and Margaret Weis & Tracy Hickman were my favorites. These days, I have favorites for different genres. George R. R. Martin is obviously a master storyteller. I’m in awe of what he has done with Game of Thrones…assuming he brings it to a satisfying conclusion. It is going to be an amazing trick if he pulls all of those epic storylines together. Of course, he might solve that problem by just killing off all the characters until he’s down to one and stick their banner in the Iron Throne. I’d have to say, though, that the writer I admire most right now is John Hart. I enjoyed his first two novels, King of Lies and Down River. They were top notch. But his third novel, The Last Child, transcended the genre. It blew me away. I was in such awe of this masterpiece that I dreaded his fourth novel coming out. I was sure it couldn’t possibly stack up to The Last Child, and I didn’t want John Hart to fall from the pedestal upon which I’d put him. But I was wrong. Iron House was even better. That is an incredible feat to achieve. Now I dread his fifth novel coming out.

 

If you had a million dollars and had to spend it, what would you buy?

Ha ha! Wow. Well, I’m a Dad, so my first thought is to set up robust college funds for my kids. Boring, I know. But that’s what I’d do first. Second, I’d take my wife to a tropical island for a month, if I could pull her away from her job, which she loves. Third, I’d reward my amazing friends for their contributions to Fairmist and my forthcoming middle-grade book, The Wishing World (Starscape, fall of 2016). I’d hire my Creative Diplomat/PR Manager, Jaclyn McDonald, full time and hopefully entice Liana Holmberg, the freelance editor who worked on The Wishing World with me to work on all my projects with me. She’s just flat-out amazing. I attribute the Starscape purchase of The Wishing World directly to her artful handling of me and my writing. I’m a writer who needs an editor, and editors who can provide Liana’s kind of creative, novel-elevating work are rare.

So where does that put us? That’s half a million at most. I can’t put any in the bank? I think then I’d buy an enormous house in the mountains and rent our current house for an alternate stream of income. Then I’d buy a 1969 Camaro because I’ve always wanted one.

 

Where do you get your ideas?

These days, many of them come from my children. My upcoming middle-grade novel, The Wishing World, comes straight from them, either from my inspiration just watching and interacting with them, or actually from the ideas they have contributed to the story. They’re both insanely creative, and it makes me grin every day. Also, I watch a lot of movies and almost always go off into a daydream when something vivid strikes me. I’ll sit there in the movie theater creating a different story idea or a powerful scene in a book while I’m watching the movie’s story play out on the screen.

 

Describe a writing routine.

My ideal writing routine: Get up, go for a 5 mile run. Shower. Rough draft for four hours per day for four days each week, generating 1,000 to 3,000 words each day. Aim to have 10,000 each week. On the fifth day, do marketing, correspondence, etc. Book signings or conferences on Saturday. Writers group and more rough drafting on Sunday.

My actual writing routine: Get up, sometimes go for a 3 mile run. Get back, think about writing. Shower. Go to work. Come home at 5:30. Go to Tae Kwon Do. Eat. Argue with children about homework. Put them to bed. Put myself to sleep watching The Big Bang Theory or Agents of Shield, Jessica Jones or Daredevil, or any of the amazing Marvel movies. Get up in the morning and wonder when I’m going to write. Reach the weekend with a gasp and start writing at 3:00 p.m. on Saturday. Have a flurry of rough drafting and cap off the weekend with 5,000 words. I’m fortunate to be prolific, otherwise I could never do this, have a day job, be a father and stay sane. (The sanity thing, of course, is still in question).

 

What are you working on next?

The Wishing World will come out from Starscape Books this fall, and I’m super-excited about it. It’s a middle-grade novel about a whimsical, imaginative world where children transform into their ideal hero. The main character, Lorelei, is based on my daughter and her voice just flows out. She’s driven, snarky and hilarious. When I go back over the story for editing purposes or just to review, I’ll bust out laughing at things she says. I love Lorelei. I can’t wait for the world to meet her.

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Thanks to Todd Fahnestock for an awesome interview! Check out his website!

Want your own copy of FAIRMIST? You can pick it up [easyazon_link identifier=”B00T0GQ64Y” locale=”US” nw=”y” tag=”gimmethatbook-20″]here[/easyazon_link].

Q&A with Eric Matheny, author of THE VICTIM

The Victim Book Cover

In the spring of 2003 on a desolate stretch of Arizona highway, Anton Mackey’s life is changed forever.  A reckless decision to get behind the wheel when he was in no condition to drive spawned a moment that threatened to destroy everything the 21 year-old had spent his life working toward.  With the sun rising over the mountains and the inevitable onslaught of morning traffic that would make the highway less desolate, Anton made a decision to save himself; a decision that claimed the lives of two people.  Eleven years later, Anton is a rising star in the Miami criminal defense community. He is married and has an infant daughter.  He is earning a good living and steadily building a name for himself as an aggressive advocate for the accused.  Anton shares an office with veteran defense attorney, Jack Savarese.  A mentor of sorts, Anton strives to model his practice – and career – after Jack’s.  A Miami criminal defense legend, Jack’s accomplishments in the courtroom are second to none.  However, Jack remains burdened by a loss, a mentally-ill client from ten years earlier found guilty and sentenced to life in prison for the death of a troubled teen.

    When Daniella Avery, the beautiful wife of a man accused of a heinous act of domestic violence, comes into Anton’s office seeking his services, Anton thinks he’s landed a great case with a great fee.  But when he succumbs to temptation, he realizes that Daniella is a figure from his past.     Anton finds himself caught between the possibility of being exposed and the fact that his client – Daniella’s husband – may be an innocent pawn in the victim’s attempt to carry out her revenge against Anton.  As Anton struggles to balance defending his client while concealing the secret he has sought to forget, he uncovers the truth behind what really happened on that highway eleven years earlier.  The truth that may be connected to the conviction of an innocent man.

 

Many thanks to Book Publicity Services for introducing us to this author! This post contains an excerpt from Matheny’s new book, THE VICTIM, and a Q&A with the author.

Eric Matheny is a criminal defense attorney who enjoys writing crime fiction, drawing from his experience working in the legal system. He has handled everything from DUI to murder. His latest novel The Victim was released on August 13, 2015, published by Zharmae.

If you are a fan of John Grisham, David Baldacci, and Harlan Coben, this may be your kind of novel.

THE VICTIM is a tense, fast-paced, legal thriller/psychological suspense novel that centers around a young defense attorney whose horrifying misdeed from his college days comes back to haunt him.


March 16, 2003 – Payson, Arizona

He thought he was dead.

Steam hissed from the crumpled front end of the RV that had folded accordion-style against the guardrail. His face stung from the punch of the airbag. His lungs burned from that awful talcum powder that drifted through the cabin as the bag deflated. The chemical dust, suspended in the air, seemed to be frozen in time.

His nose was numb and swollen. He tasted blood trickling down the back of his throat like a cocaine drip. He peered through the cracked windshield, his eyes adjusting to the reddish glow of a desert sunrise. The crushed-in hood had jarred upward. The chassis was off balance. The whole vehicle wobbled as he shifted his weight in his seat.

Oh my God.

He cranked the door handle and heaved his shoulder into it to pop it off the jamb. He hopped down onto the highway. The winds were heavy and dry, rustling the sage and scrub oaks that dotted the rugged landscape along the Beeline Highway. A sliver of fiery light barely illuminated the peaks of the Mazatal Mountains, which rose and fell against the horizon. Giant saguaros stood like sentries.

The back half of a red two-door sedan lay beneath the shredded front tires of the RV. Flattened like an aluminum can. On impact the RV must have bucked forward, rolling up onto the rear bumper of the smaller car, coming to rest on its roof. The significant weight of the RV crushed the sedan into something you might see stacked in a junkyard.

The highway was quiet. Just the rush of hot wind crackling the delicate spines of the sagebrush. He got his bearings quickly, the initial shock of the crash having passed. A sobering experience. Literally. Half a handle of Jack Daniels coursing through his veins had been replaced by something stronger.

Panic.

He saw long hair, a young female’s. How he could tell her age by the back of her head, he would never know. Maybe by its length and sheen—bright, yellow-blond. Slick with blood. Her forehead propped on the steering wheel. The driver-side window blown out. The windshield was a shattered web.

The man beside her—or boy, he was arguably young—was out cold, his body positioned in the passenger’s seat in a gimpy, off-kilter fashion. The passenger side had been thrust into the guardrail, which molded itself to the frame of the car. His head lolled against the door. Blood leaked from his ear and ran down his neck.

“Are you okay?” he screamed, although he knew he would get no reply. His voice resonated throughout the valley. “Hello?”

He braced himself against the ruined front end of the RV. He felt a surge of bile and whiskey come up in the back of his throat. He heaved forward but held it in. He was lightheaded.

Oh God, please let this be a dream. Oh God, please…this can’t be happening, this can’t be happening. This isn’t happening. This isn’t happening…


q&a graphic

1. Who was your favorite character in THE VICTIM, and why?

Jack Savarese. He reminds me a bit of my grandfather. Also, in a story with so many flawed characters, he was truly a good person and a father figure to Anton when he desperately needed one.

2. Which character was the hardest to write?

Daniella, by far. Creating a character as cunning and complex as she was was a challenge. I had to delve into the darkest parts of my mind to create her devious authenticity.
3. With all your experience dealing with the justice system in Florida,
would you say truth is stranger than fiction? Can you elaborate on an
unusual case of yours?

Truth is always stranger than fiction. I had a case involving a Gypsy woman who befriending a drug addict and began doing palm readings for her. Through this process, the Gypsy woman managed to convince this drug addict to give her all of her possessions.

4. What did you do to celebrate once your book was published?

Can’t recall exactly. I think the celebration was short-lived because the real work of getting the book edited began shortly after learning that it would be published.
5. Describe your writing routine; where do you work, any particular time
of day, do you listen to music?

I write at my desk during my work day. I try to hit 2000 words per day, and I can hit this in one shot during a slow day, or in little 400-500 word spurts throughout the day if I am busy. I also take down notes if I get an idea or some dialogue during the day. I try not to listen to music, too distracting.

6. Fill in the blank: If I had a million dollars, I would ___________.

Be debt free with hopefully enough left over to buy an Aston Martin.

7. Who is your favorite author?

John Grisham. He is the master of the legal thriller and a tremendous source of inspiration.
8. Do you have another book in the works? Will we see more of Anton
Mackey?

I am working on something. Whether Mackey comes back has yet to be determined.

 

mathenyVisit Eric Matheny’s website ! Want your own copy of THE VICTIM? You can pick it up [easyazon_link identifier=”1943549117″ locale=”US” nw=”y” tag=”gimmethatbook-20″]here[/easyazon_link].

The Poet’s Secret – Q&A with author Kenneth Zak

Book Cover_High Res

Elia Aloundra, a young lit student, sees a reclusive poet, Cameron Beck, recite a poem at a campus pub before he vanishes. Ten years earlier, Beck had published a popular collection of ninety-nine odes to one anonymous muse before dropping from the public eye, leaving behind a decade of speculation over his disappearance and the identity of the muse. Elia always found sanctuary within the pages of great books and raised Beck’s work into that pantheon, memorizing every verse by heart.

But her love life pales in comparison to the great romances of literature, and she sets off in search of Beck hoping to finally leap from the page and unveil the secret to love incarnate. What she doesn’t know is that as her quest begins, Beck is perched atop a cliff on a remote Caribbean island and about to attempt suicide. Decades earlier a Spanish shipwreck entombing mystical Aztec relics was found off that same island.  Elia must win her way through Beck’s protective circle: Isabella, a robust island matriarch with heavy voodoo juju, Paco, a local fisherman and cantina owner, and Fatty, a burnt out, transplanted New Orleans crawdad of a doc. What Elia cannot fathom is that Beck’s secret will change both their lives forever.

This fascinating Q&A was brought to you by Kenneth Zak and PR By The Book!

Watch the book trailer here:

What inspired you to write The Poet’s Secret?

At the time I wrote The Poet’s Secret, I was on a personal pilgrimage. I essentially took a three­year sabbatical, sort of an adult “time out,” and embarked on a new path. I dedicated myself to explore the meaning of life and love and particularly the arc of passion. I became consumed by the idea of living in the present, honoring the “now” as the only real moment in time, the only authentic eternity, which allowed me to both disconnect and connect like never before and let go of the constructs of past and future as fictions created by the mind. I gained a new appreciation for relatively brief moments and encounters as having potentially profound effects. I was living abroad, reading, writing, surfing and slowing down my existence.

The tale that became The Poet’s Secret was conceived in a hovel perched atop a one­table taverna in the hillside village of Avdou, just a scooter ride from the blue waters of the Aegean Sea on the island of Crete. I was sequestered alone, halfway around the world from my home, and recovering from a life, and a relationship, that had left me hollow, or at least I thought at the time. But it turned out words kept flowing out of me, first in raw, chunky verse that faintly resembled poetry and then in images and scenes that bore an even fainter resemblance to a novel. For months I wrote, swam in healing waters and disappeared into this remote, antiquated Greek village. I had never done anything like that before, but at the time it was the only existence that made any sense.

So many miracles happened during those months. I experienced a cleansing, a healing and an awakening, and I began to perceive light and water and imagery and words and the souls around me like never before. I eventually returned to California, and then traveled to Bali, Mexico, Costa Rica, Thailand, Cambodia and South America, following the sea and surf with laptop in hand and continuing to write. The backstory to writing The Poet’s Secret is a story in itself.

How did you select the locations for the novel?

It was tempting to set the bulk of the novel in Greece, a country I adore. However, as the story evolved the compass for the island setting spun toward the West Indies, and the story’s life raft washed ashore on the fictional island of Mataki. I was fortunate to spend a good part of my sabbatical on tropical islands and coastal villages that certainly informed the setting. As for the early campus setting, I based it on a fictionalized version of my beloved alma mater, The Ohio State University.

What was your particular process in terms of plot, outlining and character?

I essentially began the novel with two scenes that were haunting me. First, I had a reclusive poet on a remote island cliff about to attempt suicide. Second, I had a bookish young woman captured within the confines of the great romances of literature. I really had no idea about their connection, if any, but those two images would not let go of me. As I began to write, the concept of the woman yearning for what nearly kills the poet began to take hold.

The process was fairly organic. I let the characters breathe and lead me into the story. I wasn’t even sure whose story it was until shortly after the first draft. Once the closing scene appeared to me I realized that it was really Elia’s story. I then just had to navigate getting there. While I did not develop any formal outline, I downloaded scenes as they appeared, stockpiled them and later wove them in when they seemed to make sense. It was a bit like swimming across a sea, not sure which direction land might be but hoping that if I kept going I would eventually find my way.

Stumbling, a bit blindly, through this creative process was both exasperating and exhilarating. As I was working on revisions, I attended several writers’ conferences that stressed the necessity of thorough plotting, which made me feel a tad vulnerable. I later read an interview about Michael Ondaatje’s process in writing The English Patient and realized I was in good company.

The novel is filled with excerpts of poetry, which came first, the poetry or the narrative arc?

Most of the poetry was written before any narrative took form. The poetry came in often painful and soul­ searching flourishes, and then was revised over time. There is a line in The Poet’s Secret where Dean Baltutis refers to the poet’s inspiration being “survival.” That is precisely how it felt at times. I also wanted to combine both poetry and prose into one novel and attempt to slow down the reader a bit at the beginning of each chapter to contemplate and absorb the poetry, to be in that moment so to speak, before continuing on the narrative journey.

What in particular surprised you about the process of writing The Poet’s Secret?

I didn’t want to force plot twists or preconceived outcomes. I let the characters find the story. I let go of expectations and trusted the story to evolve. Tapping into this creative process was freeing, exhilarating and challenging, sort of like jumping off a cliff into the sea for the first time. I had never done anything quite like it, but this particular process for me felt authentic. I certainly was surprised how well the early drafts of the poetry and manuscript were received, which bolstered my confidence to pursue the project through publication.

Water imagery is abundant throughout the novel, what is the particular connection for you with water and particularly with respect to this novel?

I was thrown onto a swim team at age 8 even before I passed beginners swim lessons (I was terrible at the back float). But water soon became my life and in many ways my salvation. Throughout my youth I swam, played water polo, lifeguarded and hung around Lake Erie in northeastern Ohio. Somehow, I didn’t even see an ocean until I was 18. But I recall climbing out of the backseat of a Datsun 210 hatchback (or what they claimed to be a backseat) after driving for 22 hours to Ft. Lauderdale for spring break and telling my college buddies to just pick me up in a few hours. I was mesmerized. I sprinted into the Atlantic Ocean and swam and bodysurfed until dark. Today, I surf or swim almost every day. I feel like I am about eighty percent water, the remaining twenty percent made up mostly of curiosity and mischief.

Much of the water in the universe is said to be a byproduct of star formation. I’m no scientist, but I like the way that sounds. Because when I look up at the night stars it feels a lot like gazing west an hour before the sun dips into the sea, at least at my secret little spot by the water. Flickering diamonds scatter everywhere along the surface, and if I squint just right, I forget the sea is even there. Instead, it looks like a galaxy of stars shimmering right into me, washing across my heart, reflecting off my smile and filling me with the belief that I can just float away into the universe. So I often do.

Spiritually, water often represents purification and healing. To me, water represents so many things, perhaps most importantly love and life and the sacred feminine. I once nearly died underwater while surfing in Uluwatu, a place few have ever heard of and even fewer have visited. But I know on so many occasions water has saved me, water has healed me, and water has reset my compass when I have been spinning in some uncontrollable vortex. So for me, my life and my love seem to be tied to returning to the great aquatic source, again and again, maybe just to fill the chasm that still exists in me, and maybe to some degree still exists in all of us.

I have been fortunate to swim with sea turtles and dolphins in the wild on many occasions. When I stare into the eyes of a sea turtle or a dolphin I cannot help but believe that they understand this great aquatic connection, a connection beyond humanity, beyond species, beyond even the stars. So when I am writing about passion, heartbreak, healing, life and love, it is only natural for me to write in a particularly aquatic language and style.

Where is your favorite place to write?

My favorite place to write is on that squeaky metal spring cot in that hovel above Mihalis’ taverna in Avdou, Crete. After that, any place as long as I have my noise cancellation headphones. I’ve written and revised all over from kitchen tables to airplanes.

How long have you been writing?

I’ve been writing over thirty years now in one form or another. I wrote a bit of poetry in high school and then did a bunch of required writing in my legal profession. It was sometime after law school that I penned my first novel (unpublished), and then about ten years ago when the idea for The Poet’s Secret first took flight. I also have some published short fiction and poetry.

Who are some of your favorite authors?

Pablo Neruda, Gabriel Garcia Marquez, Haruki Murakami, Carlos Ruiz Zafon, Paulo Coehlo, Milan Kundera, John Steinbeck, Michael Ondaatje, Jorge Luis Borges, Rumi, A.S. Byatt, Carl Safina, Tom Spanbauer and so many more.

How did those authors influence your work?

My favorite authors inspire, entertain, challenge and provoke me. I don’t try to write or emulate any particular style. But when I read the opening of Cannery Row time stops.

How did you become affiliated with the Romance Writers of America?

Someone recommended I send an early draft of The Poet’s Secret to the RWA. While The Poet’s Secret is by no means a traditional genre romance, it was selected an RWA Golden Heart Finalist in romantic suspense. I was the only male nominated that year (attending the national conference and award ceremony is another story altogether). When my face went up on the Jumbotron in front of thousands of mostly female authors at the award ceremony it was a bit unnerving. Writing anything can be fraught with self­doubt. The RWA could not have been more welcoming and supportive and certainly gave me a bolt of confidence to continue writing and revising, as did the nominee class from that year, the appropriately named Unsinkables.

How did your professional career as an attorney influence your writing and how do you balance the two careers?

I think practicing law actually spurred my interest in creative writing. While I was in private practice, I felt constrained by the form restrictions requisite within the legal profession. I also felt a lot of legal writing often served more to obfuscate than illuminate and writing poetry and fiction allowed me the freedom to explore and express myself in a different medium. The Poet’s Secret is not “another lawyer’s courtroom thriller” in any respect, nor am I particularly drawn to that genre since I’ve lived it. Nonetheless, my legal career (now as General Counsel for a large private brokerage company) is both fascinating and challenging. I draw some inspiration from the poet Wallace Stevens who for years continued his vibrant writing career while an executive for an insurance company. As far as balance goes, my evenings and weekends are spent around the keyboard as much as possible.

Tell us about your involvement with 1% for the Planet and The Surfrider Foundation.

Perhaps only a poet would give away money before it is even earned, but that is what I felt compelled to do given my love of the ocean and conservation causes. In addition to ocean swimming, free diving and water polo, I have been an avid surfer for nearly two decades and have surfed around the world. Subtle conservation themes are laced through The Poet’s Secret, but my love of the ocean and our planet is anything but subtle. I hope to leave this world and particularly our oceans better than I found them. Penju Publishing’s membership with 1% For the Planet and my pledged donations to The Surfrider Foundation are an effort to spread awareness, give back and pay it forward.

“There Will Be Blood, Dust, and Love.” An Interview with Jerome Brown

Screen Shot 2014-11-25 at 12.31.47 PMQ: Calves in the Mud Room is full of authentic detail; the smells, the sounds, the struggle of cattle farming. How did you come to be so familiar with that little slice of Wade’s life?

A: Mostly from observation.  I didn’t grow up on a farm or a ranch but I grew up around all of that.  My grandparents were farmers and ranchers.   A barn that it is a home to horses has always been one of my favorite places.  I even like the smells.   That bittersweet mixture of mud, manure, urine, horsehide, hay and leather.  As for the calving sequences, l learned  a lot on a photo assignment I did for a magazine.  I also did quite a bit of research on calving as well.  The rest is just a hard wired memory of winter in snow country.  And all the hardship, heartbreak, beauty, and bliss it brings.

 

Q: Almost everyone in your book is an unsympathetic character. Which one was the hardest to write? Who was the easiest? Why?

A: Gosh, I hope they weren’t all that unsympathetic. I’m not sure about how to answer this one.   They were each difficult in some respect but easy in others.   The one that took the most work was probably Wade.  I wanted him to be authentic.  To despite all the crap that surrounds him, to at least try to do the right thing.  There were times that I was unsure of his path. I  also wanted his relationship with his mom to be honest. Glory was hard in that I didn’t want her to be totally one dimensional or cartoonish, but still be a self absorbed, spoiled brat.  The easiest to write was Rochelle.  Or at least the most fun. We’ve all encountered someone who is outrageous, flamboyant, rowdy and rebellious just for the sake of being so.   You just never know what’s going to come out of her mouth.  The grandfather was also a pure joy to render.

 

Q: Your author bio says after college you tried writing the Great American Novel, but couldn’t get past the Great American First Sentence. What was that book about, and how far did you actually get?

A: I started so many things but I just didn’t have much of a story to tell.  Or wouldn’t work at it long enough to uncover one.  I did finish a play and a screenplay but couldn’t get them produced.  They were flawed.  But great practice nonetheless.

 

Q: What would you like to think happened to Wade after the story ended?

A: I like to think that Wade keeps on keepin’ on.   That he doesn’t regress.   Goes on to college and grows into wherever that takes him.

 

Q: What’s your next project?

A: I’ve been messing with something I started a few years ago. It’s set in the early 1990’s.  The working title is Wild Horses. It’s about Shepard Moon, a Vietnam vet and possibly a former independent contractor for the CIA who is now putting in time as a US Marshall. He’s been sent to central Wyoming, where he coincidently grew up,  to find out who’s killing the wild horses.   There will be blood, dust, lust and love.


I hope you enjoyed our interview! Be sure to support great independent authors like Jerome, and pick up or download a copy of Calves in the Mud Room here!

EXCLUSIVE interview with Lincoln Child and Douglas Preston

 

Recently I had the pleasure of doing an interview with these renowned authors via email. Many thanks to Sonya at  Grand Central Publishing for making this possible, and unlimited thanks to the authors for taking the time to answer these questions! We’re still giving away two copies of Blue Labyrinth, but only until midnight! Enter while you still can!

Lincoln Child, answering for both himself and Doug Preston:

gimmethatbook:  As always, Blue Labyrinth has unusual weaponry and a most unique location to further the story. How did you decide to use the Salton Sea? Have either of you been there, or did you visit there to get better background, and see what the place was like for yourself?

Lincoln Child:  I have an aunt that lives in Borrego Springs, not far from the Salton Sea. I have visited the place and found it both evocative and eerie. Doug and I prefer to situate our books in places that one or the other of us knows, so in that way we were lucky not to have tapped the Salton Sea before.

 

GTB:  Your characters are diverse, and each of them have their own special “voice”. As a writer, you have to become your characters.  Is there a character whose mind is difficult for you to consistently penetrate?

LC:  I think both of us have trouble penetrating Agent Pendergast’s thought processes. That’s not necessarily a bad thing, though, because we prefer to write him from a distance, as it were. It seems to work better when neither the reader nor ourselves know too much about what he’s thinking.

 

GTB:  Many authors have a Twitter page to connect with readers. You have a FaceBook but not Twitter. Any particular reason for this?

LC:  We just haven’t had a chance to get into it. That’s nothing against the service–it just shows we’re a bit behind the times in that particular way.

 

GTB:  Finally, what is the one question you wish interviewers would ask you, but never do?

LC:  How’s this for an answer: the very question you have just put before us!

 

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