Suspense

Sky High

Sky High - Helge Mahrt

I like to read books that take a creative stance on how the future of the earth might play out. Lots of books, television shows, and movies have tackled this topic, but every once in a while I stumble on a unique concept that makes me fall in love with the genre all over again. 

Sky High is a fast paced and straight to the point work that left my heart racing despite the questions circling around my head. It has a Brave New World feeling to it, but the plot is one that seems terrifyingly plausible. In addition, while the plot is nowhere near similar, the slang used throughout the work reminded me slightly of A Clockwork Orange, however, Sky High is much easier to read than the slang/dialect in A Clockwork Orange. 

My main complaint is that I have so many questions after finishing reading it. I'm not sure if the author is planning a sequel or not, but I desperately hope so. Overall the plot is very well paced, character development is excellent, and I was hooked within the first couple of chapters, unable to stop reading until I was finished. 

Highly recommended and I look forward to this author's future work. 


Some Bio Information

My name is Helge (pronounced hell-ge, ge like in get) and judging by my name you probably have already guessed that I’m not a native English speaker. Actually I’m German, but I am married to a Spanish woman and have been living in Madrid for seven years already.

My interest in writing sparked very early, when I was still in primary school. We would get little comic strips of four vignettes and had to write stories that matched the images. I was amazed by the possibilities and enjoyed the task immensely.

In my teens I had some ideas floating around in my head and I did a lot of world building for a story that I’ve never gotten around to bring to paper. I still remember fondly how I’d type on an old IBM notebook (which was more like a brick) after dark, when I was supposed to be sleeping already.

After finishing my A levels, writing didn’t play a big role in my life until recently. I was busy studying computer science, and then moving to Spain, and all that entails, but I’ve always had this notion of “one day I’ll write a book”.

Eventually I realized that “one day” will never come unless you sit down and put some work into it. So in 2013 I learned about NaNoWriMo and decided to participate. I actually managed to crank out about 6000 words on the first weekend but then failed miserably. I just didn’t have the discipline yet.

I tried again in 2014 and managed to write every single day. It was very exhausting, for I also had to work my day job, but it was also a revelation. Not only was I able to achieve the insane goal of 50000 words but also something incredible happened: When reading a book, I usually reach a state where I’m not aware of the actual act of reading anymore, but just of the images created in my mind. Something similar happened while writing, only a lot more intensive. I was so immersed in my story, and in discovering what was happening next, that I forgot that I was typing. It felt like reading a book, but the experience was a lot more powerful.

So here I am now. I have a full time job at a big IT company, which is quite demanding, and I’m trying to find time to write on my second book whenever I can.


Q&A

1. Tell us a little about what inspired you to write this book. 

I don’t exactly remember when I first had the idea, but I wanted to try creating a different kind of Sci-Fi story. Most of which I’ve read play in Space, where the human race managed to get off Earth. So I asked myself: What if we failed to colonize space? What if we were stuck here, running out of living space? So I started dreaming up Skyreach and this really cool transportation medium, the Tubes going up and down the city, and things took off from there.
While writing Sky High, I almost exclusively listened to Ellie Goulding’s album Halcyon Days, and I feel that it influenced the story.

2. How long did it take you to put your work together? 

Sky High was my NaNoWriMo 2014 project. I wrote the first 50k words within a month, but then made the mistake to take a break. Stuff happened, and it was September 2015 before I got to continue the story. I had lost all momentum and had to read what I had written so far again. It was really tough to get a vibe going again, but it was also a very surprising experience – there were so many details which I had forgotten already, and I really liked what I had so far.
I resumed writing and finished the story in another 15k words or so. All in all – pure writing time – I’d say it took me 2 months.

3. Can you tell us a little bit about your writing process? 

I have a fulltime day job, so I have to squeeze in writing time whenever I can – usually in the evenings when my wife is already asleep. 

When writing Sky High, I had to keep up with the daily word goal, which was quite tough. We were still living in a smaller flat and my desk was in the living room, right next to the TV. While my wife was relaxing on the couch, I put on my headset, cranked up the music to drown out the TV, and then wrote for about 2 hours every night. It was a rush, but I ended up exhausted at the end of November. 

In 2013 I first participated in NaNoWriMo, but I started late and failed after about 5000 words. I swore to prepare better next time, so I used October 2015 to start inventing the world my story would take place in, and some of the main characters. From there I took the “pantser approach” and just started writing, never looking back.

4. What was your least favorite part of the writing process? 

I think the worst part was waiting for my editor to be done. It’s not that he was slow, but it was so hard to wait!

5. How would you describe your writing style? 

Since the book has been out, I’ve read a couple of times that my style is “precise”. I think I can agree with that: The draft I sent off to my editor was right below 65k words, and when it came back it only shrank down to about 63k. I’ve read that most writers need to cut down on their writing, after the first draft, but I always have the feeling that I need to expand more on different topics/parts. I’m a very goal-oriented person – trying to get there in the most efficient manner - and I think it shows in my writing. 

6. What is your ultimate writing goal? 

I’d love to be able to live off my writing.

7. What would you like readers to take away from your work? 

First of all, I’d like them to enjoy what they’re reading. I think that’s most important. 
Further than that, it’s hard to tell at this point. I’ve only written one book so far. With Sky High, my goal was to create a mad-chase experience, and I think I’ve succeeded in that. With my next project, I’d like to create a different experience – but I haven’t decided on which exactly yet.

The Shimmering Stones of Winter's Light

The Shimmering Stones of Winter's Light - Constance Walker

I love books that start out with hints of paranormal and fantasy components. I'm always interested to see where the author takes the plot and just how much  of the supernatural they choose to weave into their created world. 

Constance Walker did a great job of holding my attention and keeping me guessing about where the plot was going. There were quite a few twists - some that I saw coming and others that caught me off guard. 

Highly enjoyable.  Very well written. I had a lot of fun reading it. 


Some Bio Information

I love to write.  I’ve been a newspaper reporter, a documentary video writer and producer, a magazine writer and all the while I had to deal with hard facts.  Now I write fiction.  I can make up the “facts.”  
  
I’ve written three contemporary romances, one paranormal romance and two gothics.  I’ve had five books published the traditional way and last year established WINTER’S EVE BOOKS for my newest novels.   


Q&A

1. What inspired you to write this book?   

I don’t think I ever thought about the inspiration for the book until now but I’ve always been interested in the “unseen.”  Déjà vu instances, odd happenings, strange sounds and findings, psychics, etc.–things that can’t really be explained unless you want to label them all “coincidences.”  .

And one day I was driving on a bridge and I saw a solitary half-hidden house on a cliff and I casually thought about that house and the setting.  And that progressed to wondering who lived there, who built it, and then I started playing the “what if?” game:  What if the house was owned by just one family for all time?  What were the adults like?  What if children lived there?  Did they dare go near the cliff to look at the water?  Were they frightened by the view?  And then, what if the house was haunted?  And finally…what if all this happened in Wales?  Why Wales?  I really don’t know why but I’ve always had a fascination abut Wales and its folklore.  

2. Can you tell us a little bit about your writing process? 

I don’t use an outline but once I get an idea I start jotting down words and phrases for scenes that I think belong in the storyline.  And usually those words or phrases determine the genre, the timeframe, and the characters.  

 I don’t purposely set out to write a certain kind of book--it just seems that it all comes together for me at the beginning.  And then as I write I sometimes speak the words out loud–it’s a way of checking the grammar but mostly it’s my way of becoming the literal storyteller and, most times, that leads to complete sections.   

3. Describe your favorite scene in this book.  

That’s difficult–there are a few that I really like--but I think the scene where Mathias, Gwynneth’s father, tells how she came to live with him and his wife, Molly, might be my favorite.  I liked these people--they were good, decent, and hard-working people--and I wanted the reader to know that Gwynneth’s life with them was beautiful and loving and was the basis for her gentility.     

4. What does the perfect writing environment look like to you? 

I usually write in the late evening, so…a cold, snowy night.  My warm office in my home.  Jake, my wonderful dog, sleeping by my chair.  The quietness of the house.  And a sense that all is well, all is well.       

5. How would you describe your writing style? 

Eclectic.  Very eclectic.  I like to write in different genres because I like reading all kinds of books–fiction, non-fiction, different categories.  So, I never sit down and say, "I think I’ll write a gothic or a contemporary or a mystery“--I sort of go by that “what if?” game I spoke about before.    

 6. What would you like readers to take away from your book?  

A sense of “Yes!”  A feeling of having been told a story that takes you away from whatever is happening in your life at the time.  And, I always put animals in my stories–maybe even just a reference to them--and I hope the readers will take away a sense of compassion and caring for animals.  

7. What’s your ultimate writing goal?  

That’s the easiest of all the questions.  I just want to tell stories.  I’m not in a position to single-handedly change the world but if reading and enjoying my book makes one person happy or peaceful or makes the day better, then that’s really my goal.  That’s the “YES” factor

A Lifetime of Terror

A Lifetime of Terror - Pete Grondin

In all honesty, this is not a genre that I typically pick out to read. While I enjoy suspense, I tend to lead more towards the detective, docudrama, or paranormal suspense books as opposed to government/terrorist/military suspense. 

But Grondin has woven a plot that teases you along those lines, leading you to believe you understand what's going on when you're really still in the dark. 

I appreciated the multiple perspectives and found myself connecting with individuals on both sides of the line. Even people with bad intentions can rationalize their actions, and A Lifetime of Terror does a great job of showing this. 

Well written. Well executed plot. If this genre is one you enjoy reading, I definitely recommend A Lifetime of Terror. 


Some Bio Information

Pete ‘P.J.’ Grondin was born in Sandusky, Ohio in 1956.  He is the seventh of twelve children born to Nicholas and Patricia Grondin.  The family moved a number of times when Pete was young; from Sandusky, Ohio to Bay City, Michigan, then to Maitland, Florida, finally settling in the small, rural community of Zellwood, Florida.  At age 22, he moved back to Sandusky and worked at a retail department store where he met his wife, Debbie.  They were married in January, 1984 and have two children.  He joined the US Navy in the Nuclear Power Program and served on the ballistic missile submarine, USS John Adams (SSBN 620b).  After being discharged from the US Navy in 1989, he moved his family back to their hometown of Sandusky.  He was elected to the Sandusky City Commission, serving a single term from 1993 to 1997.  He recently retired from a major regional electric utility where he worked as the technical lead in the IT department.  

His current novels in the McKinney Brothers suspense series are A Lifetime of Vengeance, A Lifetime of Deception, A Lifetime of Exposure, A Lifetime of Terror, and A Lifetime of Betrayal.  


Q&A

1. What inspired you to write this book?

This is actually the fourth book in the McKinney Brothers series.  The brothers, Pat and Joe McKinney, started out in their teens on the wrong side of the law in an illegal business.  They began to feel guilty and more than a little frightened about how quickly they were being pulled deeper into this lifestyle.  Wanting to get out of the illegal business, they told their business partners that they were pulling out.  Their business partners took exception to this and did something quite heinous to the brothers’ family. Pat and Joe left for the military, planning to return and take revenge on their business partners, only to find that their plan was being executed by someone else.  At the completion of the first book, the brothers believe that they have successfully resolved their issues and put their lives back on track.

During my own military and civilian career in the nuclear industry, I met a large number of folks from all walks of life.  Many of the stories that were traded while in training, while deployed on the USS John Adams, and while working in union and non-union jobs at a nuclear power plant gave me sizable library of ideas.  People have all kinds of motivation to hate. We can’t possibly know what makes them tick or what makes them explode.  I tried to use two completely fictional people with their own motivation to do harm on a large scale to people that had little to do with the source of their hatred.  One of the characters, Victoria Garcia, ultimately does focus her hatred on the actual persons who were the catalyst for her hatred. 

2. What does being an indie author mean to you?

First, it is quite an education.  This particular book was a beginning to end project.  I did everything from writing to formatting to sending the finished draft to the printer.  I even took the cover picture, the Davis-Besse cooling tower, which I could see from my office window (I worked at Davis-Besse for FirstEnergy Nuclear Operating Company).  Second, being an indie author has given me a tremendous feeling of accomplishment.  Finally, I came to understand that I have still have a lot to learn about the book industry, especially since the industry is undergoing such profound change. 

3. Can you tell us a little bit about your writing process?

I start with “the big idea,” the main plot.  I write a paragraph or two about the plot.  From there, I have a spreadsheet with five tabs (though this can change from book to book).  The first tab is broken into about 45 lines which I use to write a few sentences about each chapter.  Also on this tab I describe the viewpoint for each chapter.  I try to keep the number of viewpoints to that of seven major characters.  I also keep track of the open points for each chapter so that I can make sure they are addressed prior to the end of the story.  The second tab is for character descriptions.  This is where I write information on the particulars for each character, both major and minor.  The third tab is for an overview of the viewpoints, location information, and other notes.  The fourth tab is strictly to track word counts.  I shoot for between 100,000 and 120,000 words, ideally somewhere in the middle.  The last tab is a very brief synopsis of each chapter (first tab boiled down to a single sentence.  I use this spreadsheet as my roadmap.  It also helps me maintain an easy reference to see where I am in the story.  It is easy to get lost in the midpoint of a manuscript so I like using this process to keep myself on track.

4. Who is your favorite fictional character?

My favorite at the moment is Lucas Davenport, the primary character in John Sandford’s “Prey” series. I am also a big fan of Kinsey Milhone from Sue Grafton’s alphabet books.  Ms. Grafton was my inspiration to use “A Lifetime of. . .” in the title of my series.  I’m also a big fan of Harry Bosch, the detective in a series by Michael Connelly.

5. Describe the perfect writing environment.

The perfect writing environment would be a locked, quiet room with a computer that has internet access for research, with a white board and no windows.  Unfortunately, I haven’t found this ideal room for a number of reasons. 

6. How would you describe your writing style?

Great question.  I try to write in such a way that the reader forms their own motion picture in their mind.  I try to touch arouse each of the reader’s senses so that they feel like they are there, in the scene, with the characters in the story.  I’m not sure that I always succeed. 

7. What’s your ultimate writing goal?

I hope that, one day, one of my stories is picked up for either a television series or a motion picture.  I’ve had a number of people tell me, after ready one of the McKinney Brothers novels that they could picture the story unfold on the big screen.  I was pretty pumped at the time, but I came back down to earth and realized that there is a lot of work involved before that happens.  The good news is that I am now retired from my day job, and at fifty-eight, I still have a few good years in me to work towards that goal.

Dead in a Dumpster

Dead in a Dumpster - B.L. Blair

I'm pretty sure that I've mentioned how much I love murder mysteries. Agatha Christie always had me in awe while I was growing up. With each book of hers that I read, I fell more and more in love with the genre. 

So I'm always excited when I stumble across a new author who completely blows me away with their take on the traditional mystery. B.L. Blair has created a fun and lovable character in Dead in a Dumpster. Leah is so much fun to get to know, and by the end of the book, I felt like she could be my best friend!

The small touch of potential romance that blossoms throughout the book is also highly entertaining to watch. With each new development and each "lead" that Leah stumbles across, I found myself more and more entranced. 

Definitely worth your time. I look forward to future Leah Norwood mysteries!


Some Bio Information

B. L. Blair writes simple and sweet romance and mystery/romance stories.  Like most authors, she has been writing most of her life and has dozens of books started.  She just needs the time to finish them.

She is the author of the Holton Romance Series and the Leah Norwood Mysteries.  She enjoys reading books, writing books, and traveling wherever and as often as time and money allows.  She is currently working on her latest book set in Texas where she lives with her family.


Q&A

1. What inspired you to write this book?

I have always loved reading mysteries and simply wanted to try writing one. Dead in a Dumpster was an idea I had percolating in my head for awhile. I wanted to tell a story about how a person can dislike someone but still want justice for their death.
 
2. How would you describe the perfect murder mystery novel?

The perfect murder mystery has a little humor, a bit of sarcasm, a touch of romance, and of course, a great story.
 
3. Who’s your favorite character in Dead in a Dumpster?

My favorite character is Marcus Cantono. I love his bad boy persona. I plan to write a novella or two featuring him.

4. Can you tell us a little bit about your writing process?

I am a combination between a pantster and a plotter. Most of my writing is free form and off the top of my head, but somewhere in the middle of the book, I stop and plot out the story. It’s not a formal outline, but I do jot down what needs to happen to get me to the end.

5. Describe your favorite writing environment. 

I don't really have a favorite writing environment. I typically write at my home desk. My cat is nearby and the house is quiet but not silent.

6. Who’s your favorite mystery author?

That’s a hard one. I read a lot of mysteries. If I had to narrow it to one, I’d have to say Elizabeth Peters. She wrote great descriptions and interesting characters. I love the Vicky Bliss novels.

7. What’s your ultimate writing goal?

I hope I write a good book that gives someone a few moments of pleasure. I'm not trying to change the world. I just want to help you escape from it for a little while

Ice

Ice - Jessica Wren

I'm always interested when someone combines genres to create a unique plot. While I expected a straight up thriller/suspense novel, Ice by Jessica Wren immediately shows you that it's much more than that. 

As we're introduced to Minterville, we're also introduced to The Minter, which brings in a fantasy and science fiction component that I'm not used to seeing in this type of suspense drama. 

The plot moves quite quickly and I realized on several occasions that I had blinked and missed a vital piece of the puzzle. I enjoyed that various chapters are told through various characters' perspectives. It added some depth to the plot and allowed you to draw a little closer to each of the characters instead of only being attached to one or two. 

Although questions are answered at the end of the book, I found myself with many more questions about the town itself. I still felt that Minterville was hiding quite a few secrets behind locked doors. 


Some Bio Information

Jessica Wren is a writer who has published exactly one ebook. She wishes to share her infinite wisdom and experience with professionals such as herself. A high school teacher in a small Georgia city, she knows everything about being a cop, a lawyer, a drug dealer, a serial killer, a teenage boy, and every other known identity. She gives top-notch professional advice about writing by which she consistently fails to abide.

Her other talents include boring teenagers to death, aggravating her husband, driving extra-slow when others are behind her, and dropping food on her blouse. She is the nagging wife of Patrick since 2006 and the mother of Rachel, whom she one day hopes to embarrass in front of her high-school friends. She is the dictator, I mean co-founder of Author Promo-Co-op, a group for indie authors that is dedicated to cross-promotion and networking (https://www.goodreads.com/group/show/153603-author-promo-co-op)

Jessica's ultimate dream is to retire to a one-room shack with 20 cats, where she will sit on the porch and shout "Get out of my yard!" while swinging a broom at anyone who happens to pass by. 


Q&A

1. Do you have a favorite author?

I have many favorite authors. Stephen King, Arthur Hailey, and Suzanne Collins top my lists, and while studying Spanish in college, I got into the works of Isabel Allende and Gabriel Garcia Marquez. Lately, though, I have been enjoying reading the works from talented indie authors. Jessica Wren tops my list of favorite indie authors. She’s not only a fantastic writer, she’s also very modest. 

2. What inspired you to write this book?

It’s quite an interesting story, actually. I was house sitting for a professor’s family in Statesboro one summer. His house was located at the end of a nearly mile-long road (at least it felt like a mile, since one of my duties was to walk the dogs twice a day), and had an extra-long dirt driveway surrounded by woods. One day, while resting, I stopped and thought, “If I didn’t already know what was at the other end of this driveway, I’d think there was a magical world in there.” Georgia heat does strange things to your imagination.

That same summer I also read One Hundred Years of Solitude and many of the characters in Ice were American versions of the characters in Solitude. Minterville is essentially an American Macondo. Then later that fall, I watched a Saw marathon and a documentary about Griselda Blanco. One night, I had a dream about that Erika Christensen’s character in Swimfan; she was calling for me to rescue her from the pool. All these melded together in my mind, and Ice was born.

The Cliff Notes version of this story: too much TV and brain-melt. 

3. Can you tell us a little bit about your writing process?

I take a ball-point pen and a legal pad and get to it. Oh, that’s not what you meant! A plot outline for me is a must. It’s not carved in stone, but I have to have some idea of where the story ends before I can begin it. I then hand-write several rough drafts before typing. I do research as I go; I double-check my facts to avoid plot holes.

It’s not 100% perfect, but it helps me to avoid factual errors which lessen your credibility with readers (note that there are differences between fictional liberties and factual errors. For instance, Minterville is a fictional town, but I’m not saying that it’s the capital of Georgia. One piece of advice I would give about the writing process is to know the difference between taking fictional liberties and putting in factually incorrect information.) If there’s something I’m not sure of, I either write around it or cut it out entirely. I try to write about 1-2 chapters a day. 

4. How would you describe your writing style?

I am just too excessively wordy for no good reason. (I use a lot of parentheses, which-along with the m dash-I tend to overuse). I also mix in background information as I go along. Sometimes I wear purple shirts when I’m writing. This creates a lot of backstory, which I’m working on refining. My stories also have enormous amounts of characters, such as Tom the mayor, Andy the cop, Kendra the rich lady, Stephanie the cat-lover, Dewayne the paramedic, Elliot the football player, Susan the teacher, etc. (Pop quiz and no cheating: who’s the cat-lover?).

I try to keep my tone informal to keep the flow smoother, but sometimes my tendency to use big words with a diminutive one will do takes over. I try not to use too much F##ing profanity, and I only use it when it makes the characters appear more realistic or shows their emotions. Because I write crime stories, my scenes of violence do tend to be graphic, but generally no more than the scenes in Catching Fire when Gale was whipped with a horsewhip until his back was slashed up and bloody or Johanna Mason axed Cashmere through the chest.

Jessica really wishes she had used third person for Ice and for future novels, she will. Fortunately, she has a whole team of beta-readers who are helping her to overcome some of these novice writing techniques to create better novels. I have been told that I am an expert at creating suspense and incorporating social themes. Obesity is a leading cause of health problems in America, but for one character, being 150 pounds overweight saved her life. To find out how, check out Ice. 

5. Describe your favorite place in the world.

My bed. I also really like Gatlinburg, Tennessee, where I went on my honeymoon. It’s beautiful out there, and there are so many things to do. If I ever become a bestseller, I’m going to buy a cabin in Gatlinburg and write all my novels there. Who wants to help me achieve this dream? Anyone? Well, until then, I’ll be in my bed writing.
 
6. What would you like readers to take away from your book?

That Jessica Wren is the best writer in the world and that they just HAVE to recommend her to all their friends. Also, the importance of community and family, the benefits of forgiveness and understanding, and the most important message of all: always listen to your instinct. If something “feels” wrong, it probably is. 

7. What’s your ultimate writing goal?

To get these fictional people in my head to shut up! All day long, I hear, “Hey, Jess! When are you gonna put us on paper? You can’t keep us locked in here forever, you know.” Ice got written pretty quickly once I got tired of listening to Barbara Jenkins yapping in my head all day (That, and Sebastian was threatening to kill me…). I am hoping that others will enjoy the products of my overactive imagination. And many do, so I guess I’m almost there. Another goal is to sell enough books to buy a cabin in Gatlinburg. 

The Serenity Stone Murder

The Serenity Stone Murder - Marianne Jones

Growing up, I read as much Agatha Christie as I could get my hands on. Then I strayed into Lilian Jackson Braun for a while. But a good ol' fashioned murder mystery has always been dear to my heart. 

What I enjoyed about The Serenity Stone Murder is that it didn't go in the direction I expected it to. With two women headed towards an enlightening weekend experience, I expected a fellow member to be found murdered. Without going into further detail, all I'll say is that I was pleasantly surprised. 

The main character is delightful and naive about how her actions are going to affect herself and her friend. Both women are extremely trusting when it comes down to it and that proves for awkward, comical, and even dangerous situations. 

In all honesty, I felt a bit let down at the end of the book. I expected some huge climactic (possibly even chase scene filled) ending, but what ends up happening is probably more like how real life mysteries are solved. 

Despite that, I enjoyed reading this book. The dialogue is witty and fun, and I appreciated the lighthearted change of pace with this murder mystery. 


Some Bio Information

Marianne Jones is from Thunder Bay, Ontario. Her work has appeared in Reader’s Digest, Canadian Living, The Globe and Mail, and numerous literary and denominational publications. She is the author of 4 books, and was named International Christian Poet Laureate 2010-2012 by Utmost Christian Writers. Her website is www.mariannejones.ca.


Q&A

1. When did you realize you wanted to be an author?

When I was eleven I was working on a poem, crafting it to get it right. When I finally looked at the finished product, the thought came into my head that I wanted to be a writer. I felt such a surge of joy and affirmation in response to the thought that I knew I had found my calling. It made such perfect sense. Books and reading had given me so much joy that I could think of nothing better than creating books myself as a vocation.

2. Can you describe your writing style?

My work is descriptive and poetic at times, at other times characterized by economy of words and humour. I grew up in a family that loved to laugh and look for the funny side of everything, so that sense of the ridiculous tends to sneak into a lot of my writing, 

3. What’s your favorite part of the writing process?

When I finish a project.

4. Who is your favorite author?

C.S. Lewis. 

5. Describe the perfect mystery book.

I love character-driven detective stories. I may not remember much about the mystery part afterward, but I never forget a great detective character. Who could forget Sherlock Holmes, Miss Marple, Hercule Poirot? I love the British t.v. detectives, Jack Frost and Inspector Morse. And then there is the wise and methodical Precious Ramotswe of The No. 1 Ladies’ Detective Agency series.

6. What does the perfect writing environment look like?

Any place that I can tune out the world. My office at home is great. On Friday mornings I have a writing date at a coffee shop with a friend. We set up our computers and work across the table from each other. It’s a solution to the loneliness aspect of writing. We are companionable in our silence. But often I write on a plane or on car trips with my husband. It’s easy to concentrate in those situations, since I can’t invent tasks to escape the work.

7. What’s your ultimate writing goal?

To do my best work. To find the courage and confidence to say what I need to say. 

When I Was Jane

When I Was Jane - Theresa Mieczkowski

Very few books make me excited. And I mean "Wow, that was such a rush!" excited. But as I was reading Jane/Audrey's story, I felt every single high and low that she felt. I connected with her on a level that I haven't felt from a book in a long time. And I was just as anxious to uncover her subconscious’  secrets as she was. 

The plot is written in such a way that you find yourself speculating about Jane/Audrey's backstory hundreds of times. And just to let you know, I was never right. By the time I got to the end of the book, I was completely caught off guard and surprised. 

This book is getting lots of high praise and I really think we'll see some great future books by Theresa. She's quite talented and has a way of teasing you with her plot that leaves you anxious, breathless, and overall spellbound. 


Some Bio Information

Theresa Mieczkowski is a writer, photographer and behavioral consultant. She lives with her husband, three kids and two dogs in Woodbury, Ct. She is an experienced motivational speaker who  never tires of meeting new people and has been visiting  book clubs to discuss When I Was Jane as much as she can.


Q&A

1.Tell me a little bit about what prompted you to write this story. 

When I was an undergrad studying psychology I was fascinated with memory and the idea that who we are shapes what we remember. After many years of sitting on this story-which I had thought up for a long time- I finally took advice from my thirteen year old daughter and completed a longtime dream.

2.Do you identify with Jane/Audrey?

Absolutely. I think each of them represents a part of every woman. Sometimes we are stronger and sometimes we are needier- I think that the characters are a facet of every woman- but I definitely called upon my own experiences to be able to write for both of them.

3.Can you tell us a little bit about your writing process? 

I have an unconventional process. I wrote the end of this book many years ago and then went back and finished it by writing parts all out of order and then stringing them together. If I felt like I really wanted to do a scene, I would do that and save it and then wrote the lead up. For me, I needed to write the end first in order to be able to really understand how the beginning would unfold. And the beginnings are always the hardest.

4.Describe your perfect writing environment. 

A quiet house, no distractions like housework piled up…sometimes I like to have a friend to sit across from me and bounce ideas off. Being able to pace around in my pajamas and run to the computer when I have to get it all out. SO basically- not my house.

5.Do you have future writing projects planned out? 

I have flushed out stories for two other characters in the book—one of them is Vivienne and I would love to be able to do that because her story is amazing.

6.Who would you cast as the lead if your book was made into a movie? 

I have thought about this a lot. Definitely Alexander Skarsgard from Tru blood as Jason. Possibly Henry Clavill is Thomas. Jane—I would need to find a very young Ashley Judd. I had a dream actually that Mandy Moore played her and I can see that actually.

7.How would you describe your writing style? 

Thoughtful and funny. Light and easy to read but also thought provoking. I like to hide insights among good old fashioned story telling. And of course, I am lucky to be edited or else I would go on and on all day. If someone can connect with one of my characters or be able to grow somehow through the experience then I did what I set out to do.

Claddagh Pool

Claddagh Pool - Denis Hearn

I would like to start by saying that I struggle with suspenseful novels. I am prone to anxiety and constantly worry about characters and the outcome of the plot. However, with the growing relationship between Conor and Anne, and the beautiful imagery of Ireland that Hearn incorporated into Claddagh Pool, I found myself very much enjoying this book. 

I think the relationship between Conor and Anne was very interesting -- mostly because I've never seen a book where a detective and a journalist successfully pair a loving relationship with a working relationship. Anne never pushes Conor for information that he cannot provide and Conor is respectful of Anne's motives and her interviewing capabilities and opinions. Their relationship manages to not get in the way of the investigation. I found that incredibly refreshing and it gave me some breathing room between the suspenseful investigation scenes. 

Without giving away any spoilers, I felt like the ending was appropriate and justified. I was neither disappointed nor incredibly happy/content. 

The writing is very smooth and the characters are well developed. I enjoyed reading this work and look forward to more by this author. 


Some Bio Information

Denis Hearn was born in Wexford, Ireland and educated at Blackrock College Dublin and St. Peter’s College Wexford. He comes from a literary family which includes editors, reporters and historians. He currently divides his time between Ireland and Atlanta, Georgia. His second book “Bagger Island,” is now in final edit.


Q&A

1.     What do you consider to be the most difficult part of the writing process?

Editing and re-writing.
 
2.     Why did you want to become a writer?

I like to express myself in words and bring characters to life in a great story.
 
3.     How much research did this book require?

At least nine months.
 
4.     Can you describe your favorite place?

In Claddagh Pool? It would be Connemara.
 
5.     What would you like your readers to take away from this book?

How the innocence of youth can be taken away by evil people. Even if they live in a beautiful place.
 
6.     Who’s your favorite author?

David Baldacci. Patricia Cornwell, John Banville.
 
7.     What’s your ultimate writing goal?

To write more and create a following of readers.


Stone Journey

 What is it, Anu?
This water pouring across the plain
 Of Desmond to the sea.
Down the limestone steps of karsted hills.
Through furrowed fields and into the wild Atlantic’s glare,
Below the sculpted cliffs of Clare.
 
Rushing now with meter in our steps.
Gunneling. Running, and forever onward.
Why me? Why did you love me back there?
Why did you hide our passion in your shawl?
Why did we venture into the race?
Water and the speed of foam still fill our space.
 
What made us one within our wetness?
Ferdiad, and the hounds of love
Came bounding out of me and down the craggy slope.
I made it there with you.
We thunder downward and pour out into the plain below.
Anu and I, loins locked together within the flow.
 
Karsts bear hard around us. They crack and crumble.
Crushing anything that ventures in their space.
But we have courage. We have the inner power
Of mystery with the magic, now dark within the glens.
Together we take this solid sight,
And outpour each other in the stony forms of our delight.
 
  Denis Hearn 2013