House Divided

House Divided - Peter G. Pollak

Growing up is hard. Period. End of story. Right? Not only is it a difficult physical transition for us, but with all the people in the world trying to persuade us to participate in their agenda, it's difficult to know who we can trust. 

In House Divided, we see just how important it is to really question the people who insert themselves into our lives. Courtney is a young impressionable college student who's looking for a way to better the world. Lulled in by what she considers to be a noble cause, she finds herself stuck in the middle of terrorist activity.  And all the while, her father is cringing at her choice of friends and extra curricular activities, but even he isn't aware of just how far her new friends will go to force his daughter's involvement. 

As the reader, it's easy to see what's going on and where Courtney is going to inevitably end up. But consider the implications in your own life. Who are you listening to? Who are you allowing to influence you? It's not always as black and white as it seems. 

While political thrillers are not really my style, I enjoyed watching Courtney and her father butt heads as they moved towards the cataclysmic conclusion of the novel. I felt myself grow anxious as I began to put the pieces together and formed an assumption of what was going to happen. 

Besides all of this, the writing is wonderful and the characters are realistic. Dialogue is smooth and easy to follow and the plot keeps you on the edge of your seat. 


Some Bio Information

Fiction writing is Peter Pollak’s fourth career.  He has been a journalist, an educator, and an entrepreneur.  He earned a Ph.D. from the University at Albany in history and education.  

He self-published his first novel, The Expendable Man, a political thriller, in 2011. His second novel, Making the Grade, a police procedural, came out the following year.  Last Stop on Desolation Ridge, a suspense that takes place in the Adirondacks was his third novel (2013). In the Game, another police procedural, appeared in the same year.

He blogs on writing topics and books and is active on Facebook and Twitter.  His website petergpollak.com is where you can find information about his books and subscribe to his blog and/or e-newsletter.

Peter splits his time between Maryland and upstate New York. He is married, has two children and four grandchildren.


Q&A

1. When did you decide you wanted to be a writer? 

I’ve wanted to write since I read Thomas Wolfe’s Look Homeward, Angel when still a teenager. My early attempts were tentative and juvenile. I took a creative writing class in college, but didn’t get a lot out of it. Working as a journalist helped me gain confidence in my writing ability. Then, when I retired, I decided to try to finish one of the novels I’d started while still working. People liked it and so I kept going.

2. Can you describe your writing process? 

All of my stories start from the germ of an idea. I play around with that concept by writing the initial scene or two. Then, if I can see where the story might lead, I’ll begin to work on it, building a structure as I go that includes a synopsis, an outline, character descriptions, and spreadsheets for character and place names and other key details.

3. Tell us a little bit about why you wrote this book. 

House Divided came to me as a result of reading about disturbing events on college campuses in the U.S. and abroad. By disturbing I mean people were taking actions beyond debate and discussion, including attacking other students for who they are and what they believe. My story takes off on that foundation to show where such behavior might lead.

4. Who is your favorite author? 

I read very widely and therefore my contemporary favorites include George R.R. Martin, Daniel Silva, Michael Chabon, Geraldine Brooks, Neal Stephenson, Alice Hoffman and many others. Historical favorites include the Russian greats––Dostoeyevsky, Tolstoy and Chekhov, Americans––Jack London and Upton Sinclair; also, Proust, Joseph Conrad, Joyce, Thomas Mann…too many to name. 

5. What character do you identify with the most?

Because my name is Peter, let’s start with Peter Pan. Next comes Eugene Gant, Thomas Wolfe’s protagonist in Look Homeward, Angel and of course, Holden Caufield. Later many protagonists—Richard Cypher in Terry Goodkind’s Sword of Truth series; Daniel Silva’s Gabriel Allon; and Case in Gibson’s Neuromancer.

6. What’s your ultimate writing goal?

My true ultimate goal is to write books that people enjoy reading. I will keep trying to make each book better than the last one in hopes that each finds more readers. 

7. Where is your favorite place? 

I visited Italy for the first time last fall and loved it—especially Florence, which to me is one of the most exciting cities I’ve ever visited. I’m scheduled to go out to Tucson in a few weeks. I love it out there. The desert is eye candy for my Eastern USA eyes. My favorite place, however, is the Adirondacks in upstate New York. It’s not the most beautiful or welcoming or interesting, but it offers the kind of peace I’ve never known any place else.