Douglas Corleone Exposes Organized Human Trafficking in Good As Gone

Read & Tell

Meet Douglas Corleone, author of “Good As Gone“, an international thriller exposing the heinous world of organised human trafficking. You may have heard of this crime often, but you won’t get the full picture until you’ve read this newly available crime mystery. Introducing private investigator Simon Fisk, this book is masterfully written by the award-winning author of  One Man’s Paradise, a finalist for the 2010 Shamus Award for Best First Novel and won the 2009 Minotaur Books / Mystery Writers of America First Crime Novel Award. A former New York City criminal defense attorney, 1975-born Doug now resides in the Hawaiian Islands, where he is currently at work on his next novel.

Doug’s contemporary crime novels are published by St. Martin’s Minotaur, or in Australia by Pan Macmillan . I’ve had the honour to review this masterpiece and my review is attached at the end of this interview.


Hello Doug, thank you for coming in. First, congratulations on producing a marvelous story with such impressive characters and settings. Tell us, what compelled you to write Good As Gone?

As a society we tend to shy away from difficult issues like child abduction. But avoiding a problem has never helped solve a problem as far as I know. I’m under no illusion that my book is going to change the world, but if it sheds even a hint of light on the subject, I’ll feel as though I’ve done my job.  

Yes, you’ve successfully exposed to us the shocking world of organized human trafficking. Your book is so powerfully moving. You ripped readers’ hearts apart from the opening chapter. And along the way we can see you. How could you stand the bleeding of writing Good As Gone? Would you share this with us?

Writing this novel was difficult at times.  By the end of the day I usually found myself mentally and emotionally drained, which was an entirely new experience for me while writing.  I started this book around the time my son Jack was turning two and already developing this wonderful, unique personality.  In the morning I’d try to imagine what it would be like if he was suddenly taken from me, and I used those emotions to bring the character of Simon Fisk alive.  It took a lot out of me, but I think the depth of those feelings shows on the page.   At least I hope they do.

Yes they do, some parts are deeply harrowing, making readers think of the victims, of Simon/the families, and of numerous other people you described throughout the book. The kinds of lives they have are simply haunting.

Douglas-Corleone

“I’m under no illusion that my book is going to change the world, but if it sheds even a hint of light on the subject, I’ll feel as though I’ve done my job.”
~ Douglas Corleone, Author of Good As Gone.

 

Simon is decent, smart, and ruthless. How real are your characters?

When I set out to create Simon Fisk, I wanted to magnify the contrast between his outward appearance and his internal conflict. To other characters, Simon may appear stoic, but inside readers know he’s brimming with rage and anguish.  And only when he’s confronted by monsters who would cause children harm do we really see that rage spill out and when it does, it’s genuine and pure, and you wouldn’t want to be on the wrong side of it.  I think we all can relate to having bottled-up feelings while wearing a brave face in front of others.  I think that’s what makes Simon real.

Your experiences as a criminal defense attorney inspired parts of this story. Would you like to share some highlights from that time?

Unfortunately, highlights in the career of a criminal defense attorney are generally considered lowlights by the rest of society.

Oh right, I was imagining your formidable Anastazja Staszak! 🙂

GOOD-AS-GONE-final-673x1024

 Good As Gone, crime mystery and international thriller by Douglas Corleone, introducing private investigator Simon Fisk, former fugitive hunter, retriever of missing children, the next hero to fall in love with.

Would you share with us a memorable moment in completing this novel?

The most memorable moment for me, when writing any novel, is when I first come up with the idea. For Good As Gone, the idea arrived while I was thousands of miles from home in New Haven, Connecticut, working on one final federal criminal case. That morning I’d spoken to my literary agent, and she said that my publisher would like to see something new from me (as opposed to a fourth Kevin Corvelli novel).  I’d read this one-page article online two years earlier about a private investigator from Tampa who specialized in retrieving children abducted by their estranged parents and taken overseas to countries that don’t recognize U.S. custody decisions, and that’s what immediately popped into my head. I spent most of that day creating Simon’s backstory, and most of the plane ride home deciding what would cause him to break his rule of not getting involved in “stranger abductions.”  That’s when Lieutenant Davignon of the French National Police was created.

Congratulations on creating these interesting characters! They sure are strong hooks for the next installments your Simon Fisk series.
Now, you’re currently at work on your next novel. What’s cooking?

The next Simon Fisk novel is under contract and I’m awaiting an editorial letter.

What’s the proposed title?

The second novel in the Simon Fisk series will be released next year. It’s titled “Payoff”, and it’ll take Simon from Los Angeles to the Caribbean and Central and South America in search of the teenage daughter of a Hollywood movie mogul.

Why is this a must-read?

If you enjoyed Good As Gone, I’m confident you’ll enjoy the sequel.

We’re looking forward to that!
Now, on writing. As a master in this art, what, in your opinion, are the most important elements of a great mystery thriller? 

I think the combination of deep characters and moving the story forward (which are often at odds with one another) is what makes a great novel, particularly in the mystery and thriller genres.

Thank you! Who gives you the most encouragement, Doug?

My readers. There is nothing that motivates me more than an email from someone who just finished one of books and tells me that they loved it and asks me to please keep writing.

Any writing tips?

Just the usual. Persistence is key to succeeding. Oh, and steer clear of anyone who tells you to write only what you know. One of the greatest joys of being a novelist is researching new settings and learning about new cultures and professions.

Thanks again! And you sure have done a marvelous job in learning. And personally, what did you learn from writing your novels?

I love writing, but not so much the business end of things.  I’m active on social media, but I’m not entirely comfortable tweeting and posting.  I love that I can interact with my readers, but I’d prefer that interaction to be one on one, in an email or letter, rather than holding conversations in front of thousands of other users.  I’m just as honest, but probably far less open when the conversation can be seen by others.

Where did you grow up? I’m imagining a lovely Italian home with lots of affection and endless yummy food—is this true?

No. I think if I had, I’d be writing something much different and certainly less noir. I might not be writing at all.

We are what we have overcome. The past have made you a great person, Doug, but I’m glad the past is over. Share with us your Hawaii home.

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“I love consistency, especially while I’m writing, and Hawaii gives me that.  I live on the leeward side of Oahu, where the weather is consistently brilliant and the people are consistently friendly.  It’s a remarkable place to live and work.”

Nice. Tell us a bit about who or/and what matters to you.

Above all, my children. I have three. Jack is 4, Maya is almost 2, and Kyra is 3 months. They’re my world; they’re my everything.

You are so blessed! Enjoy the kids, they’re young only once, and only for a short time.
Thanks again for chatting with us, Doug. Best wishes for Good As Gone!

And readers, I hope you have enjoyed meeting the fabulous crime author Douglas Corleone. Come follow Doug’s latest news on Facebook and Twitter. His amazing new book Good As Gone is available from Amazon | Barnes & Noble | Books-A-Million iBookstore | IndieBound ~ and in Australia online from Pan Macmillan or from the shops beginning September 1, 2013.

Following is my review of the book.

 

GOOD-AS-GONE-finalThe Heinous World of Human Trafficking: “Good As Gone” Reviewed by Ia Uaro

 

Book title: Good As Gone
Series: Simon Fisk Novels (Book 1)
Author: Douglas Corleone
Publisher: Minotaur Books; St. Martin’s
ISBN-10: 1250017203 ISBN-13: 978-1250017208

 

6-year-old Lindsay Sorkin disappears in the middle of the night from a Paris resort-style hotel room. The National Police doesn’t want a media circus which will endanger Lindsay’s life as well as the country’s reputation; therefore Simon Fisk’s expertise is quietly sought.

 

Simon is a former fugitive hunter who now works privately retrieving children abducted by non-custodial parents. He is a very kind and sensitive man with nothing to lose. Carrying a heavy burden of loss, Simon agrees to take on the assignment to retrieve Lindsay so that there will be two less parents in the world walking aimlessly through their own hell on earth.

 

Simon’s clarity of mind and thought processes is astounding. He is focused, disciplined, systematic, thorough and meticulous. Like an eagle with the sharpest eyes he spots tiny details that other trained investigators have missed, while his brilliant logics connect dots with amazing precision. And all the while he hurts. He knows what the parents are going through and he feels for them. Genuinely worries about Lindsay’s welfare, Simon puts her priority in the foremost of his mind when making abhorrent decisions, such as, having to end his opponent’s life in self defence, even though, personally, in getting himself killed he has nothing to lose.

 

Good As Gone is masterpiece crime thriller that will keep readers on edge as Simon races against time to save an innocent life, from Paris to various international cities and alleys, dealing with dangerous lowlifes from smelly street thugs to the vilest professional criminals, and of course, corrupt law enforcers and treacheries.

 

Don’t mistake this as just another Madeleine-McCann-inspired story: Good As Gone is a highly original fast-paced ingenious suspense, and you will never mistake Douglas Corleone’s writing style with anyone else’s because Doug’s work is supremely above today’s other crime writers’. He is a lot like Simon Fisk:

  • Doug’s clarity of mind and thought processes is astounding, delivering the exceptionally complex plot in a clear voice and easy-to-follow methodical narration, which is a high achievement considering the fast pace of the intricate twists and turns.
  • Doug is focused, disciplined, systematic, meticulously thorough and logically brilliant, leaving no chance for readers to get confused in a convoluted maze, taking them along with him through dangers, action, and heart-wrenching pain.
  • Doug has perfect knowledge of the content, either from his professional research or experiences as a former defense lawyer.
  • Like an eagle with the sharpest eyes Doug spots tiny details to the tee, and this applies in both his superbly comprehensive story and flawless English, such as, though I received a review copy marked “uncorrected”, I could only spot a few tiny errors.
  • And unlike the majority of today’s men-fic, Doug isn’t afraid of honesty. He shows us how men too feel, and feel deeply, even those who often have to act with ruthless brutality. He is witty and he is polite in his speech, with very rare use of strong language. (Who did say, never underestimate the seductive power of a decent vocabulary?) In Fisk, you can see Doug clearly: he is caring, and he respects women.

 

Don’t miss reading this book, even though I’m sure a movie deal isn’t too far away. Simon Fisk and the story are that good you’ll be glad this is going to be a series.

 

 

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Meet RJ Mirabal, Rio Grande’s Author, Retired Teacher, Rider, Musician.

 

read-tell

RJ Mirabal, Southwest Contemporary Fantasy author of The Tower of Il Serrohe, a retired award-winning teacher of  Los Lunas High School in New Mexico, is with us today. Former president and rally chairman of the Land of Enchantment BMW Riders, RJ remains active in the club. RJ is a board member of the New Mexico Dulcimer Association which puts on a yearly dulcimer music festival.

 

RJ Mirabal, Southwest Author of The Tower of Il Serrohe

“People tend to put themselves in little groups and the groups come into conflict with each other… I think people from different cultures are a bit suspicious of each other. The clans in the book have some elements of New Mexico, but they are also universal; they could be from any part of the world.”

Hello RJ, thank you so much for visiting. First, congratulations for the accolades from your readers so far. They’re all fascinated by your home the Middle Rio Grande Valley, where you have lived most of your life. Please share this this place with us.

The Middle Rio Grande Valley is located in New Mexico midway on its journey from the Rockies of Colorado to the Gulf of Mexico. The river itself is small in terms of volume, but rather exotic as it works its way through mountains, across deserts, and deep canyons all while nurturing its bosque: a narrow band of mostly cottonwood trees, willow bushes, and countless species of plant and animal life. I grew up along the Rio Grande in the small towns of Peralta and Los Lunas and couldn’t think of any better setting for my writing.

You are a retired teacher of the award-winning Los Lunas High School. Come tell us about this school and your time there.

My life’s work was teaching high school students English, Speech, and Drama in Los Lunas, New Mexico. I enjoyed the challenge of helping students communicate more effectively and explore their world. The difficulty was getting students to appreciate their role in their own education. I was able to succeed some of the time, but I occasionally wonder about those I couldn’t reach. I was active in the National Education Association (NEA) at the local level because teachers have to have an equal voice in the direction of education in America. I was humbled when I earned the NEA-New Mexico Excellence in Education award in 2006 two years before I retired.

That’s wonderful! Congratulations!

And past president and rally chairman of the Land of Enchantment BMW Riders, you’ve remains active in the club. How nice! Share with us your adventures with the club.

Being able to ride throughout this beautiful state, country, and world on a motorcycle is an experience for which I’ll always be grateful. And the people I’ve worked and ridden with are among the best!

After retiting, you have pursued writing and music. Playing the hammered dulcimer is a big interest for you and you’re a board member of the New Mexico Dulcimer Association which puts on a yearly dulcimer music festival. Tell us about playing hammered dulcimer, and the music festival.

Hammer DulcimerThe hammered dulcimer is a rather unique and little known instrument of ancient origins. It has a very charming and exciting sound because, coupled with the singing strings, there’s a strong percussive element that makes playing and listening great fun. Our New Mexico Dulcimer Festival is a wonderful opportunity for many people to learn more and appreciate the beauty of these unique instruments including the mountain dulcimer which is actually a different instrument.

You enjoy exploring New Mexico’s wilderness areas on his four-wheeler and travelling with your wife, Cheryl. When you’re not writing or promoting your book, you explore back roads and wilderness trails throughout the state on your Polaris RZR four-wheeler. Tell us more about the wilderness trails and the four-wheeler. Which one interest you the most? The wilderness or having fun with the car?

OLYMPUS DIGITAL CAMERABoth the 4wheeler (which is something like a micro-Jeep with a motorcycle engine) and the wilderness are equally attractive. It’s great to get away from civilization and humanity to simply enjoy nature. It’s also fun to go fast, climb hills, and cross difficult terrain. It’s a wonderful blend of the man-made and God-made. Of course, I also believe in preserving the environment and sticking to official trails so wildlife can go about its business without some crazy guy on a Polaris RZR (the brand of 4wheeler I ride) disrupting their day!

What a way to enjoy life! Now tell us about your novel The Tower of Il Serrohe. What compelled you to write this book?

The Tower of Il Serrohe is the result of a lifelong interest in fantasy and fiction stories that have unexpected plot twists. I also wanted to place the story in the landscape of the Southwest where I grew up and now live. It’s fun to find mystery and wonder in the “ordinary” places of our everyday lives. Thus I call it a Southwest contemporary fantasy.

Fantastic! Would you be so kind to tell us about The Tower of Il Serrohe?

Wrenched from a deteriorating lifestyle when his promiscuous wife kicked him out, anti-hero Don Vargas rents a dilapidated casita which – unknown to him, of course – is actually a portal to another world. Vargas takes readers through a dusty portal on a Southwest contemporary fantasy quest into a larger-than-life alternate Rio Grande Valley, where local clanspeople expect him to save them from the wily Soreyes’ mysterious Tower.

Will Don find purpose to his pointless life? Will he find love and friendship in a place he wouldn’t have believed possible? Where will his next beer come from?

The Tower of Il Serrohe front cover final

The Tower of Il Serrohe follows the misadventures of Don Vegas—who reluctantly passes through a portal—on a quest to help the clans of the Valle Abajo, a valley in another dimension that resembles the Rio Grande Valley of present-day New Mexico.

 

Please share your favourite paragraph in this book.

This paragraph ends chapter “fifty two” summing up the nature of Don’s personality and still to be revealed abilities to take on the quest to save the clans of the Valle Abajo. It also makes me laugh visualizing it:

“His (Don’s) departure seemed to create an enormous vacuum in the room. The two clanspeople (Raquela and Nersite) felt this was the closing of a big circle. Don had to be the one to save the Valle. Just look at his heritage and his abilities. That is, in spite of the fact—though they had no word for it—he seemed to be a bit of a prick.”

How long did it take you to write this first volume, RJ?

In total from initial idea and a couple of short stories that gave birth to the much more complex novel it took 30 years to complete this story. Of course, I wasn’t working on it that whole time. I actually spent the last three years writing, editing, and then getting it published by 2012. But the story ideas and my writing style improved over those years. I, of course, read continually taking inspiration and tips from every author I read.

 “The places and the people are fully realized and totally involving, and become friends you want to continue to know.”

How real are your characters?

Some of my characters are obviously fantasy, but based on interesting human peculiarities of most every person I’ve ever met. Even Don, though a regular human, is not based on any one person, but a collection of individuals I’ve known and other characters I’ve encountered in literature. I’ve tried hard to “test” my characters—even the fantasy ones—against reality so that I hope readers will find them believable given the setting and plot I’ve created.

RJ, you have said,  “People tend to put themselves in little groups and the groups come into conflict with each other… I think people from different cultures are a bit suspicious of each other. The clans in the book have some elements of New Mexico, but they are also universal; they could be from any part of the world.” What message would you tell the world? Does this book have an agenda?

The message is: “All of what we perceive to be reality is a function of our perception which is informed by our normal senses and our emotional and philosophical states of being.” And, as always: evil is bad, kindness is good, and love is essential to life.

No big agenda other than entertaining my readers who will share in my imagination as they read the book.

On the sequel, do you accommodate fans’ requests on your sequel?

I’m trying, but I’m taking some risks, too. I can’t be specific because I like readers to be surprised when they read my work. The main thing is that the story continues. I had originally intended this to be a self-contained story, but I’m enjoying the challenge of developing the story and characters further.

Why is this sequel a must-read?

I want readers to learn more about the clanspeople and the evil Soreyes. Plus, I love sharing more about the landscape.

What is the proposed title, RJ? And how did you come up with this title?

The title is: “Extreme Dust Storms May Exist”. This title is a slight variation of a very strange sign near the setting of the novel along the highway past the real Los Lunas (Rio Luna in the book). Dust and dust storms are a constant reality in New Mexico plus the implications of dust and wind play a part in the story. Also there is a key event at the beginning of the story that involves a dust storm.

Right. In Australia it will be a sign of extreme fire danger 🙂 

When is the proposed release date of this sequel? Tell us your latest news.

No idea on a release date. I’m still working on the first draft and haven’t sent it to my publisher to gauge his interest in publishing it. I’m continuing to market and publicize The Tower of Il Serrohe by attending book fairs, signings, presentations to the Southwest Writers (my professional writing association) and doing media interviews like this!

Good luck with your marketing efforts! About writing. What, in your opinion, are the most important elements of a good fantasy?

A good fantasy has to take the reader away from the “real world” into a place and events that fascinate, hence the term: fantasy. Yet at the same time, the world and characters of the fantasy story has to be believable and follow its own internal rules and the normal rules of what it means to be a human being. If a character is totally out of the realm of humanity, then we can’t relate and the story loses relevance.

When did you first know you just had to write?

When I was a kid, I used to entertain my friends making up stories as we rode the bus to school and back home. I didn’t know that meant I was to be an author, but that’s where the impulse started. Plus, I’m an only child, so I had to create stories when I played since I didn’t have siblings.

RJ, you said, “When you have a story, once you’ve developed it into a manuscript, get an editor.  No matter how good you think you are, you’re not. Somebody else should look at it who knows what they are doing. You need to have people read what you’ve written, especially people who will be honest.” Now, how did being an English teacher prepare you for criticism?

Being a teacher prepares one  for all kinds of criticism from students, parents, administrators, politicians, media pundits, etc. Since I graded writing for a living, it’s not hard putting myself at the receiving end of criticism. I actually welcome it as long as it’s honest and constructive.

How much do you have in common with your protag?

Few of Don’s major characteristics are shared with me such as alcoholism, constant cynicism, being so out-spoken, etc. It was a great challenge to create and maintain a persona very different from me. However, some of the small ways and things that annoy him annoy me, too. Nersite is most like me in my opinion.

Tell us a bit about who and what matters to you.

My wife, my late parents, and the great family of friends I have are most important. Also, enjoying life and spending most of my time doing what is fulfilling to me. I enjoy some attention, but not a lot. I would like more attention paid to my writing which is what I’m working on now.

Yes, I can see you are a very people person with real interest in those around you. Thank you so much for the wonderful chat, RJ. Best wishes on writing Extreme Dust Storms May Exist!

And readers, I hope you have enjoyed meeting RJ Mirabal. He can be found on  rjmirabal.com  or his current main site rjmirabal.blog.com. Check out the latest news from RJ on Facebook,  Google Plus, and  Goodreads. RJ’s book The Tower of Il Serrohe is available from Amazon.com and  Barnes and Noble . I will let you know when the sequel will be available.

What readers say on The Tower of Il Serrohe:

  • Mirabal does a fine job of capturing the spirit of the Rio Grande Valley and transporting you to a new dimension with likable characters… What a fresh style for fantasy.

  • Man, Mirabal sure has some imagination! … I was able to picture so much of it in my mind, even the house north of Rio Luna. The map was a great idea and helped me with my vision as I read.

  • A fascinating journey to the desserts of New Mexico and the alternate world that parallels it. The whimsical characters remind me of the Hobbit, only with a New Mexico twist. Mirabal’s descriptions of New Mexico sunrises and sunsets are beautiful…The mystery of the other world is carried through to the surprise end, and a satisfying conclusion that stays long after you put the book down.

  • This book creates a solid new world with the feel of the Southwest, and yet with a difference: The alternate world is strange but haunting—and mysterious. Like the protagonist, you sometimes wonder whether it is real or just hallucinatory. But then, when you get to an explanation of sorts—WOW. Totally unexpected and made me rethink—and want to reread it all.

 

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My Review of “Good As Gone” by Douglas Corleone


GOOD-AS-GONE-final-673x1024

“Good As Gone”, crime mystery and international thriller by Douglas Corleone, introducing private investigator Simon Fisk, former fugitive hunter, retriever of missing children, the next hero to fall in love with.

 

“Good As Gone” Reviewed by Ia Uaro 

Book title: Good As Gone
Series: Simon Fisk Novels (Book 1)
Author: Douglas Corleone
Publisher: Minotaur Books; St. Martin’s
ISBN-10: 1250017203 ISBN-13: 978-1250017208

 

6-year-old Lindsay Sorkin disappears in the middle of the night from a Paris resort-style hotel room. The National Police doesn’t want a media circus which will endanger Lindsay’s life as well as the country’s reputation; therefore Simon Fisk’s expertise is quietly sought.

 

Simon is a former fugitive hunter who now works privately retrieving children abducted by non-custodial parents. He is a very kind and sensitive man with nothing to lose. Carrying a heavy burden of loss, Simon agrees to take on the assignment to retrieve Lindsay so that there will be two less parents in the world walking aimlessly through their own hell on earth.

 

Simon’s clarity of mind and thought processes is astounding. He is focused, disciplined, systematic, thorough and meticulous. Like an eagle with the sharpest eyes he spots tiny details that other trained investigators have missed, while his brilliant logics connect dots with amazing precision. And all the while he hurts. He knows what the parents are going through and he feels for them. Genuinely worries about Lindsay’s welfare, Simon puts her priority in the foremost of his mind when making abhorrent decisions, such as, having to end his opponent’s life in self defence, even though, personally, in getting himself killed he has nothing to lose.

 

Good As Gone is masterpiece crime thriller that will keep readers on edge as Simon races against time to save an innocent life, from Paris to various international cities and alleys, dealing with dangerous lowlifes from smelly street thugs to the vilest professional criminals, and of course, corrupt law enforcers and treacheries.

 

Don’t mistake this as just another Madeleine-McCann-inspired story: Good As Gone is a highly original fast-paced ingenious suspense, and you will never mistake Douglas Corleone’s writing style with anyone else’s because Doug’s work is supremely above today’s other crime writers’. He is a lot like Simon Fisk:

 

  • Doug’s clarity of mind and thought processes is astounding, delivering the exceptionally complex plot in a clear voice and easy-to-follow methodical narration, which is a high achievement considering the fast pace of the intricate twists and turns.
  • Doug is focused, disciplined, systematic, meticulously thorough and logically brilliant, leaving no chance for readers to get confused in a convoluted maze, taking them along with him through dangers, action, and heart-wrenching pain.
  • Doug has perfect knowledge of the content, either from his professional research or experiences as a former defense lawyer.
  • Like an eagle with the sharpest eyes Doug spots tiny details to the tee, and this applies in both his superbly comprehensive story and flawless English, such as, though I received a review copy marked “uncorrected”, I could only spot a few tiny errors.
  • And unlike the majority of today’s men-fic, Doug isn’t afraid of honesty. He shows us how men too feel, and feel deeply, even those who often have to act with ruthless brutality. He is witty and he is polite in his speech, with very rare use of strong language. (Who did say, never underestimate the seductive power of a decent vocabulary?) In Fisk, you can see Doug clearly: he is caring, and he respects women.

Don’t miss reading this book, even though I’m sure a movie deal isn’t too far away. Simon Fisk and the story are that good you’ll be glad this is going to be a series.

 

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Meet Harper Dimmerman—Lawyer, Professor, Author of JUSTICE HUNTER

 read-tellOur guest today is Harper Dimmerman, Esquire, a leading trial lawyer who is also a frequent lecturer to other attorneys, long-standing columnist with a seminal legal publication on the East Coast and an adjunct professor at Temple University. After obtaining his degree in English literature from Vassar, he went on to found his own law firm. Following his passion for fiction and drawing upon his own experiences from the courtroom, Harper writes legal thrillers devoted to the precarious exploits of the Chicago transplant, the dashing and cerebral Hunter Gray.

Hello Harper, thank you for visiting. Your debut novel JUSTICE HUNTER was released mid-April of 2012 to great fanfare, with Hunter’s plight disproving the pithy pearls of wisdom bandied about by Clarence Darrow, “There is no such thing as justice—in or out of court.” Would you be so kind to give readers a one-sentence synopsis of JUSTICE HUNTER?

JUSTICE HUNTER is a legal thriller set in my hometown of Philadelphia. A successful big-firm lawyer is on the verge of making partner but his plans are derailed by an explosive first amendment case.

JUSTICE HUNTER is a legal thriller set in my hometown of Philadelphia. A successful big-firm lawyer is on the verge of making partner but his plans are derailed by an explosive first amendment case.

Set in the City of Brotherly Love, this series is devoted to the precarious exploits of the dashing and cerebral attorney Hunter Gray, with whom you spend every available millisecond. How real is your character Hunter?

Hunter Gray is friend I never had, a big-hearted lawyer who sort of fell into the practice of law. He represents the large-firm world I never knew firsthand either, so I suppose he’s largely a product of my imagination.

One of the best criminal lawyers in Pennsylvania has heralded you, comparing your no-holds-barred style to that of the late fiction icon Mickey Spillane and the novel as “an electrifying, chilling page-turner.” As its author, please share your favourite part in this book.

I really like Dillon Wright these days. He’s naughty and I suppose that’s where I am in my life right now.

You have completed three novels and is currently wrapping up your fourth, the third installment in Justice Hunter series. What are the titles? Would you be so kind to give readers a one-sentence synopsis of each?

 

I wrote a spy thriller first, a manuscript I shelved very early on. That title, TOKYO GHOST, brought me back to my days living in Tokyo, where it was set. I quickly realized that finding your voice as a writer is an exercise, probably one not worth sharing with the free world.

 

JUSTICE HUNTER is the first in the Hunter Gray series. That was based, very, very loosely on a case I’d worked on involving civil rights in Philly.
hd_landing_19

 

The next in the series is DIE BEFORE WE WAKE, basically a serial-killer thriller starring Hunter as well. It’s about a very bad guy killing kids, some sick pedophile type with a bunch of nasty psychological conditions. It’s ugly yet suspenseful, hopefully.

 

The third is STRIPPERS INFERNO, which I guess is sort of self-explanatory. Hunter takes the lead there too and comes face to face with a sociopath lawyer who gets off chopping up dancers of the sexual variety. It’s very dark and disturbing.

 

I started the fourth in the series too but haven’t made much headway yet, lost in a dark comedy I started around the New Year. This one, at least I hope, will be read by every reader out there. It’s about a loser dying of cancer whose sexual fantasies become reality. Naturally, considering he’s terminal, the notion of fantasy has changed pretty dramatically in this dude’s mind.

Why are they a must-read series?

Did I say that? Shit that’s bold! I guess, if I try to justify that one, and I’m not so sure those were actually my words, some momentum would be good. It might help my agent score a couple big sales. All kidding aside though, I think they’re pretty entertaining. They’re true to Philly and the legal scene. I guess there’s some value in a lawyer writing about law. I suppose that’s worth something (I would hope).

No, Harper, not your words—you must be a good lawyer! That was me, being a punishing interviewer 🙂
So, how long did it take you to write each of them? What story would you like to share about the joy, challenge, or hardship of writing? Please share some interesting moments.

This is another tough one. The first one was a real bitch. It took a couple years, I think. I sort of last track. It was right around the time I got married I think. My life was a big blur unfortunately. A very lonely time. You’ll have to take my word for it. After that, I started writing two solid pages a day. I tried to take weekends off at first because I was still so busy with building my law practice, something I still do every day with the help of a couple other people though. Lately, I’ve realized that I cannot not write, unless I’m with my kids because I don’t see them very often these days.

It’s a drug and compulsion I suppose. I’m always thinking about it and have never been more intrigued with the way everything looks. Every detail on every face on every street. So two good pages, with constant re-writing, is how I do it. Sometimes I get lost and I never outline.

I have a sense of the characters as I go and certainly they develop. If they don’t mix or work, I frequently nix them altogether and start again. What they say and how they see things is important. Mannerisms, quirks, stuff like that. I tend to gravitate to blonds (joking).

Some days feel unproductive and there are certainly intervals where I wonder whether I’m going to make the words match with the ideas that are important to me at the time. I try to make things as timeless as I can and that can be a real bitch.

Overall, it’s who I am and if I died today I’d be happy as hell, knowing that I did what I loved every day for a while.

That’s wonderful!
Now, the series was inspired by your own experience as counsel to the city of Philadelphia, where you played a key role in one of the most racially and politically charged cases in the city’s history, a case which gripped the nation for its first amendment implications.
Would you like to elaborate on this?

Not really. Intolerance persists the way it does. It’s dressed up and better concealed. But the concepts at the root of the case in that book are still everywhere.

After obtaining your degree in English literature from Vassar, you went on to found your own law firm. When did you first know you just had to write?

I think I’ve always known but I was in denial a while, like most things in life I guess. Aside from my folks and a handful of friends, I had no real encouragement. It’s a long story but I was trying to fit in to a new world and sort of felt behind academically. My self-confidence took a toll. Vassar was a boost and I had this one teacher who really helped me. Mr. Amodio. I’ll never forget the lessons he taught me, especially the import of the words matching what you want to say. Never just assuming words that seem to do the trick, the recycled ones, actually do. Say it your way and make sure the reader’s impression is what you intend. It’s not easy but it’s an idea worth holding on to.

Great tip, thank you! Now, one top mystery editor has said that your work is “easily on par with John Grisham and Scott Turow.” Who would you say have been the most influential authors in your life? What is it that really strikes you about their work?

That was actually an editor I worked with so that was a big deal. Hands down, I would say Martin Amis. He’s a genius, a badass, an innovator and he’s got balls as writer. Love him or hate him, he does it his way and for that he will always be remembered. I like artists, writers, musicians, strippers (not strippers) who take chances. 

Who gives you the most encouragement?

I guess all the writers out there who are doing it every day and grinding it out, working through the blue periods. But having said that, Martin Amis is an inspiration. I think about him and know that I’m on to something to. I have my own voice. You’ll have to trust me on that.

Here’s the email I wrote to his people when I published my first book (seriously):

“From: “Harper J. Dimmerman, Esq.” <harper@hjdlaw.net>photo
Subject: Inspiration/Martin Amis
Date: February 28, 2012 11:00:40 AM EST
To: mailto:mail@wylieagency.co.uk, keulksg@wou.edu, capeeditorial@randomhouse.co.uk

 

Sir/Madam,

 

As cheesy, in every American sense of the word with all its commercial and crude connotations, as this note may seem, I must extend my debt of gratitude to Mr. Amis. He’s been inspiring me for years.  And although the subject of my inevitable death may seem a bit morbid, before I kick the bucket, I must get something off my relatively hairless 30-something chest.  I am more and more of an ass every day and have never felt so comfortable expressing this in my hack writing because of him.  He’s given me the power to be a prick and for that I will always be grateful.

 

All bullocks aside, or whatever hackneyed British saying is being spread these days amongst the masses, he is the greatest.  I am a law professor and have my own law firm.  Within a matter of days, my second novel, a legal thriller, is set to be published, assuredly to be followed by a lukewarm reception, my closest friends and family uniting to celebrate my masochism and pretending to give a rat’s ass hair about the words drizzled off my fingertips.

 

The third, a completely fucked up serial killer recount, starring my protagonist, the only character my mind is capable of cultivating beyond the size of his cock or regimen of SSR’s, is under first edit.  The fourth is even more deranged and is under works, going swimmingly.  Strippers are mutilated.  How obvious and delightful.  Finally, in case you give a shit, my first was shelved, perhaps the best decision I’ve ever made, especially in light of the onslaught of self-publishing, the great equalizer promising to make even bigger hacks out of the existing hacks, massaging their denial like a prostitute going to town on an enlarged prostrate, fixing to steal an organ once the medicine kicks in.

 

Anyway, assuming this email is not disregarded by a hater and somehow manages to pass discretionary or non-discretionary muster as the case may be, please take the liberty of sharing this compliment with him.  He is one of the only writers, still alive, whom I would care to meet.  I do not expect a reply naturally and have no desire to publish with you.  I also generally despite lit agents, something I can say with utter confidence considering I nearly made the unfortunate mistake of becoming in Hollyweird.  This is not a disguised attempt to get anything.

 

Just wanted to get this off my chest.  The time felt right.  You only get published a first time once I suppose.

 

Sincerely,

 

/s/ Harper J. Dimmerman, Esq.                 ___

“How’s that for inspiration? He didn’t reply but I suppose I wasn’t really expecting one. I just had to do it.

Yes, I can hear your voice loud and clear 🙂
Any writing tips?

Write what you know, love and keep writing. It’s not a race. Do a little everyday, however shitty you think it is. Also, don’t be delusional. Don’t let the pressure of commercialism trick you into thinking every word you write is saleable. It ain’t that easy.

JUSTICE HUNTER will be published in mass-market paperback later this month, after breaking onto the Amazon Kindle Hot New Release List on April 27th. Congratulations! And when are you going to release the installments? Tell us your latest news.

I got this great agent last summer so I am sort of laying low. I’m about to have a third manuscript completed and ready to be purchased. I am deferring to them. They believe in me and I’m confident they will get the Hunter Gray series into the mainstream before I’m dead. As for this dark comedy I’m finishing, I think this one may actually get my name out there for real. It’s unique and angry and honest. People might not love me but they’ll know me. This one is the closest one to the way I want something to be. Maybe I’m just getting old…

Good luck with that. How much do you have in common with your protags, Harper?

By definition I guess they’re all part of me in a way. But hopefully not too much. I try to pick people I want to learn about, learning something from. I try to make it a party in my head because I think I’m a much lonelier person than I want others to believe. And of course writing this here probably wasn’t the smartest thing to do as far as keeping that a secret. But what the f—

What are your hobbies apart from writing?

Reading and other adult recreational activities. Soccer sort of. Not exercising my body really. And painting. One of them is actually hanging in someone else’s living room, which could mean a few things I guess. Its owner is too kind not to or maybe she takes it down when I’m not around and puts it back up before I come over. It’s actually not bad really. Bloody and full of angst, a lot of angles and force, but not bad.

Ohh your novels must be  funny 🙂 Tell us a bit about what matters to you.

Honesty and personal growth. These are major for me. I have these amazing little girls and a super beautiful girlfriend too but they are a given. If you’re not learning, might as well be pushing up daisies somewhere in a graveyard of stupidity.

So true.
What one thing is important for your readers to know about you? Why?

 That I’d rather be dead failure than a living fake success.

Anything else?

I think I’ve covered it. Or at least as much as any reader can stomach about one writer, especially me. I’ve gotta be making someone sick somewhere. Someone is spitting I’m sure. I see a lot of that. 

Thanks for the interesting chat, Harper! My best wishes for your books!

And readers, I hope you have enjoyed meeting our celebrity guest Harper Dimmerman. You can click on the book cover above for JUSTICE HUNTER purchase link. Come follow the latest news from his Twitter, and watch out for this upcoming book:

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Praise for JUSTICE HUNTER: 

Whether you’re looking for yet another legal/crime thriller or want to try it out, JUSTICE HUNTER is a fantastic representation of the subgenre that will keep you interested and engaged.

– Reviews by Annie


“Harper Dimmerman has penned a truly captivating story, that you’ll want to go back and read over and over, leaving you anxious for his next release.”

– Dewain Johnson

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Meet Uvi Poznansky, California-based Author, Poet and Artist

 read-tellOur guest today is the awesome Uvi Poznansky, who earned her B. A. in Architecture and Town Planning from the Technion in Haifa, Israel. At the age of 25 Uvi moved to Troy, N.Y. with her husband and two children. Before long, she received a Fellowship grant and a Teaching Assistantship from the Architecture department at Rensselaer Polytechnic Institute, where she guided teams in a variety of design projects; and where she earned her M.A. in Architecture. Taking a sharp turn, she earned M.S. degree in Computer Science from the University of Michigan and became a software engineer, software team leader, software manager and a software consultant with an emphasis on user interface for medical instruments devices.

Uvi wrote and painted constantly, and exhibited in Israel and California. In addition, she taught art appreciation classes. Her versatile body of includes bronze and ceramic sculptures, oil and watercolor paintings, charcoal, pen and pencil drawings, and mixed media.

Uvi published two children books, Jess and Wiggle and Now I Am Paper. For each one of these books, she created an animation video. She won great acclaim for her 2012 novel, “Apart From Love”, and for her poetry book, “Home”.

Welcome Uvi. Could you pease share with us an interesting moment while writing your contemporary fiction book, Apart From Love?

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My novel, Apart From Love, gained speed and purpose when right in themiddle of writing it I stopped, and turned to write the last chapter, called ‘Editorial Notes’ which is appended at the end of the book. In this chapter, a character called Mr. Bliss comes to visit the Santa Monica Apartment after Ben and Anita have left the place for good. The description given by Mr. Bliss provided the ‘stage set’ for the last scene: the white piano is gone, and the mirror lies broken on the bedroom floor. How would these things happen? I did not know yet, but now I had the end waiting for me.

You wrote “Home” in tribute to your poet and writer father, Zeev Kachel. Share with us about your father, your interaction with him, and your book Home.

933969_581130818594733_1139084828_nI started telling stories and composing poems before I knew how to hold a pen between my fingers. My father, who was a poet, writer and artist, would write these for me, and even quote words I invented. He would also ask me to ‘help’ him rhyme his poems, and so he opened the door for me to a world of creativity.

When he passed away, I went back home for the traditional Shiva-a, the seven days period of mourning. It was then that I discovered his poetry, which he had never shown anyone, because it had come out of a place of pain. It took me six years to sort through this body of work, translate it, and add my own poetry and prose. I hope the readers will be awakened to the same questions that haunted me. At the core, what does home mean to you? When you close your eyes, what image comes to mind? What memories?

Perhaps the grief did something to change the way I viewed things, or else it was sitting in that space—my childhood home—in a spot I rarely sat before, discovering it from a new angle, observing how light penetrated the far reaches of this place, how the furniture signified

relationships in the family. I drew what I saw on a napkin; wiped my tears with it, and later discarded it. This image later became the inspiration for my book, and the cover art for it.

Tell us about your new-release, “Twisted”. And what a great artwork you have created for the cover!

Twisted, by Uvi Poznansky, US author, poet, artist

In this unique collection I bring together diverse tales, laden with shades of mystery. There are four of them: I Am What I Am; I, Woman; The Hollow; and The One Who Never Leaves. Here, you will come into a dark, strange world, a hyper-reality where nearly everything is firmly rooted in the familiar-except for some quirky detail that twists the yarn, and takes it for a spin in an unexpected direction. The word Twisted related both to the yarn of the story and to the mind of the writer. Reviews are coming in almost every day. Here is a quote from one of them, written by Top 1000 Amazon reviewer Sheila Deeth:

“From lilting poetry to feline’s fearsome claw, these pieces draw the reader in, enticing with intriguing depths and surprising with sudden light. Twisted, puzzling, but perfectly put together, the collection has the feel that it was meant to be this way, no random grouping of fiction but a twisted exploration that turns and returns this reader to the singular question: What is woman?

Share with us your Get-Twisted event.

Well Ia, I learn from the best… Several months ago I attended one of your launch event and it was so much fun, so sparkling with creative ideas that I took it as as a model for my own book launch events. Right now there is a fabulous happening on facebook: the launch event for my newest book, Twisted.

I believe that it’s the journey that matters, so unlike any other facebook events you might have attended, this one is happening every day between now and August 21, the end date. Every day there is a something new, such as a cover reveal, or sharing the inspiration for the writing, or a voice clip of the actress narrating the audiobook edition.

Also, there are ongoing activities in the event, for example a Writing Contest as well as an invitation to Come Into My Twisted Universe. The first is a competitive activity, the second—a cooperative one. Both of them are hugely popular with everyone and a great fun for me to orchestrate!

Good luck with the event! And your audio books are impressive, congratulations! Now, who would you say have been the most influential authors in your life? What is it that really strikes you about their work?

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I appreciate the nuances, the overloading of words, and the musical rhythms used in the poetry of Edgar Allan Poe, the sonnets by Shakespeare, and the lyrical descriptions of Virginia Wolfe, to name but a few. I love American authors as well as authors from around the world, for example The Adventures of Tom Sawyer by Mark Twain, Crime and Punishment by Dostoyevsky, and Catcher in the Rye by J. D. Salinger, for their expressive use of ‘stream of consciousness’.

Any writing tips?

Read your story aloud in front of a live audience, and listen not only to their comments and suggestions, but more importantly—to their breathing pattern while the story is being read. Are they holding their breath at the right moment? Do they burst out laughing, or wipe a tear when you intended? If not, you must go back to the drawing board and adjust your sentences.

What’s cooking? Tell us your latest news.

I am writing my next novel about the life of David. At this stage, I am still considering what the title should be: perhaps ‘A Crown Within My Reach’ or else ‘Larger Than Life’. Either way, the novel might well be developed into two or three volumes, because this is a richly dramatic life, rife with vices, sensuality, pride, and deadly ambition. Here he is, serving as an entertainer in the royal court, watching King Saul:

“No longer do I ask, what was it in him that allowed him to become who he is. Instead I wonder, whatever it might be, is it in me? Do I have what it takes to become a leader? A king, even? And on my way up, how do I overcome my shortcomings? How does a kid like me—who is too young to grow even a single hair on his chin, let alone a fancy beard like his—find a way to project himself into an iconic role, a role that will become memorable for ages to come? In short: how do I become larger than life?

Intriguing! Best wishes with David. Happy writing! But before you go, what one thing is important for your readers to know about you?

You may have seen my art, and you may have read my books, or at least excerpts from them. Perhaps you even know that I design my own book covers, based on my art. But do you know that I combine my writing and art to create animations? If you visit my Amazon Author Page,you will find two of them under the subtitle Author Video (on the right-hand side, about the middle of the page.) Check it out.


Thanks you so much for your precious time, Uvi!

Readers, I hope you have enjoyed meeting the great Uvi Poznansky. Come follow her blog,  Twitter and pInterest; and visit her art siteFacebook pageAmazon PageGoodreads PageAUTHORSdB and Audible Author Page. Click the followings to purchase Uvi’s books:

TWISTED:   AudiobookEbook,  Print
A FAVORITE SON: Audiobook Ebook,  Print
APART FOM LOVE: Audiobook  Ebook,  Print
HOME: Audiobook,  Ebook, Print

And readers, here is my review of Uvi’s book of prose and poetry, which was cowritten with her father:

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“HOME” ~ Reviewed by Ia Uaro

 

Book Title: Home

Poetry and prose by authors: Zeel Kachel and Uvi Poznansky

ISBN: 978-0-9849932-3-9

 

Zeev Kachel, son of a Russian Jewish family, was born in 1912, on the eve of the First World War. When German declared war on August 1, 1914 and its army marched into Russia, his parents bundled him and his sister into the wagon, leaving behind their store and worldly belongings, to escape for the lives.

“Ma, why did you fool me,” Zeev was still bleeding as 70 years later his pen dripped “We Were Born in Darkness”,

“what was it for,

When you sang me a lullaby, not a song of war?

Oh why did you hide the fateful truth from me

We were born in darkness, our life—not to be?”

Welcome to the poetry world of Zeev, beautifully rendered into English by his daughter Uvi Poznansky. He was a man of passion with the ability to capture it in his work, as Uvi aptly calls it. You can’t but be emotionally affected by Zeev’s powerful laments of loss. Of a child after his mother has departed,

“I had travelled to a place so alien, so cold

How bitter it had felt, to you I never told.

How you waited to receive a word from me, a letter…”

I feel a very special connection to Zeev. To me his moving words provoke long-forgotten memories, tucked away because they were too painful to remember, or to share. I could just imagine his agony as he wrote,

“You’re asking me to record, on paper to pour

All that I lost, my esteemed counselor?”

And bravely he wrote, and wrote and wrote and wrote. Of very beautiful things that are only beautiful while they last, “Lie to me boldly, don’t misgive”

Poetry is cruel honesty—and here is Zeev baring his soul, driving us to share his pain of the well-captured memories,

“For that lost moment, how I pine!”

of his confusion,

“Is this really the path I envisioned?

Then why is the night here so black?”

And yet even as he anguished over his loneliness, “In a night with not a friend, all’s bleary,” his daughter had understood him. His lucky daughter, in whom he has carved: “I am a poem, I inspire

Five stars.

 

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NEW AUTHORS’ PATHFINDER ~ Introduction.

NEW AUTHORS’ PATHFINDER

How to use your personal best in putting forward a highly readable book

—a step-by-step guide towards quality self-publishing.

An upcoming book by Ia Uaro & Irina Dunn

INTRODUCTION

Today’s market

I was a published author at 17 who quit writing at 30 when my toddler started to help me typing. Returning to the writing scene two decades later, I discovered that a daunting new world awaits today’s new authors:

  • Traditional publishers can’t afford to risk their business finance investing in untried, newbie fiction authors. (The reason in simple, fictions don’t sell, or the sales generated are negligible after the publishing and advertising costs. Writing mentor Irina Dunn asks this question: “Would you like to change your story to non fiction? You know that fictions don’t sell, don’t you?” )
  • Literary agents are few in numbers. They are already occupied with the work of established authors.
  • Advance technology has made self-publishing too easy. Over 10,000 new books are being self-published every week, making it extremely difficult for a new voice to be heard.
  • The majority of self-published books debase literature in content and quality. This drives book businesses to shun self-published authors.
  • Sharks infest every water that a self-published author must tread in. Eight-million-too-many authors are easy preys to thriving businesses that create wealth out of their victims’ desperate attempt at successful self-publishing.
  • The social media can be powerful tools. However, their nature and the time they consume have the evil potentials to bring you down.

 Make the right choices every time. 

Why self-publishing

The unfavourable market condition for fiction does not change the fact that some talented authors have continued to produce excellent stories. You may opt to self-publish because:

  • Although traditional publishing allows you the time and luxury to focus in your art of writing, this option is hardly available for new authors.
  • You have written a masterpiece that goes against traditional recipes. You aren’t prepared to alter your work into a mainstream book-after-the-publishers’-hearts.
  • You have potential readers out there. They will appreciate your creative writing and will treasure your books close to their hearts even in the decades to come.
  • You may have written a currently hot topic. You have queried traditional businesses, but further wait will make you lose sales’ momentum.
  • You want 70% royalty. You are an established author with fans; you object to the miserly pay from your previous traditional publishers.
  • Print-on-demand and eBook cost nothing financially. Although you may want to invest in the manuscript preparation and in marketing.
  • Self-publishing is a time-consuming herculean task, but it is an achievable herculean task.
  • You can learn new skills. You will wear a broad smile of accomplishment each time you master a difficult task.
  • You will endlessly meet fascinating new people. You will interact with truck drivers, seasoned diplomats, police commanders, museum directors, music composers, etc, etc. You will help them and they will take from you, and you will be amazed by their effort to support your book. Their friendships alone are priceless.
  • In a very short time, you won’t be who you are today. You will have developed new abilities—even if you don’t realise it, people notice. (A year ago when my website first went live, Irina said it was uninteresting—but a year onward she visited again and asked me to co-write this guide.)

Writing is always better than not writing. It is an endless journey of wonderful self discovery, as well as the discovery of our fascinating world. 

New Authors’ Pathfinder

This book is a navigation guide to help new authors put forward their highly readable books. Compiled from the personal experiences of Irina Dunn and myself in writing and publishing, we show the steps that quality authors need to take in order to stand out in the saturated book business. This is not a promise that your work will become a bestseller, but following this guide will help maximise your potentials and your chances.

Stay tuned for the updates. I will post the book’s excerpts regularly.

Dandelion

You are a unique child of this world. What you have to offer matters.

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Carnival of Details and Colours

read-tell

“The Gallery of Vanished Husbands”

Reviewed by Ia Uaro

Author: Natasha Solomons

Publisher: Plume

ISBN-10: 0142180548: ISBN-13: 978-0142180549

Proposed release: September 2013

Welcome to the carnival of details and colours featuring a massive blend of vanishing husband mystery, post-Holocaust trauma of the Hungarian-Jews, London Jewish community and its woman emancipation, as well as 1960s bohemian painting scene of London. At the heart of the story is Juliet Montague, nee Juliet Greene, portraitists’ model extraordinaire, abandoned wife, worrisome daughter, rebellious Jewess, eccentric mother, remarkable businesswoman—and oh so woman.

Juliet’s life has been documented in canvases since she was a fidgety nine-year old, and we follow the stories behind each canvas from the unintentional sittings for her early portraits through the period when various artists clamour to paint her, until her final portrait at 79-year old by her son. We watch Juliet develops from a flirty teen who doesn’t think twice about playing truant from her father’s factory to become a successful gallery manager.

Daughter of practising Judaism migrants in London, all her life Juliet lives among close-knit strict Chislehurst’s Russian Jewish community which observes religious rituals to the most scrupulous degree; a community that can be caring yet refuses to tolerate or forgive Juliet’s misfortunes, rationales, liberal views and modern life choices.

Juliet disappoints her dad from birth with her audacity of being born a girl when his company is called Greene & Son, having good eyesight when his company produces the best spectacles in London, always being underfoot or getting in everyone’s hair, and marrying a Hungarian stranger instead of a nice Russian boy. Juliet shames the family by her inability to keep her husband, by her disreputable vocation and her non conformity to the Jewish laws. All these give her parents so much hurts because they truly love her.

Masterfully woven and brilliantly structured, this is a women fiction that any literary lover will appreciate. Not only will you forgive the lengthy descriptions, you will savour them. Each evocative sentence drips with witty analogies that made me chuckle, beauty that made my imagination running, and painful truths that ripped at my heart. (When Juliet fretted about what might have happened to her lost portrait, I cried remembering my best drawings that I’d never see again because I’m too scared to find out what’s happened to them.)

More than a clever play of words, this book showcases the author’s soul. The Gallery of Vanished Husbands is peopled with a diverse array of strong characters resulting from Natasha Solomons’ deep understanding of the human faculties, psychology, habits, and insecurities. Her thorough observations of adolescent rebellion, mean kids and bullying, demeaning neighbours, secretive husbands, and genuinely caring parents are all very touching. And with her admirable knowledge in fine arts, her 1960s’ London’s bohemian painting scene is stronger than Victoria Holt’s 1860s Parisian bohemian painting scene in “Daughter of Deceit”.

An enjoyable read.

Meet Wayne Zurl, former police commander, author of Sam Jenkins police mysteries.

 

Author Wayne Zurl is a retired police commander and a Vietnam veteran who writes witty and very realistic police stories, Sam Jenkins mysteries—like an episode of NYPD Blue in the Smoky Mountains. Wayne honors us with an interview today.

Wayne Zurl, US author of Sam Jenkins mysteries—like an episode of NYPD Blue in the Smoky Mountains. “All my novels and all but two novelettes are based on actual incidents—either cases I investigated, supervised, or just knew a lot about. My stories come from real experience, not something I learned after a two-hour lecture at a writer’s conference.”

 

You have led a very interesting life. But first, please tell us about your current home.

Wayne Zurl, author of Police mysteriesI live in the foothills of the Great Smoky Mountains, East Tennessee,  only a few miles from the most visited national park in the United States. It’s also “jest a hoot an’ a holler” from the small fictional city of Prospect where my protagonist, Sam Jenkins, became police chief. The Smokies are full of history and the natives are part of a fiercely independent and hardy group. The landscape is beautiful, the communities unique, and the region deserves character status—just as Raymond Chandler gave to Los Angeles in his Philip Marlowe stories and books, James Lee Burke gives Dave Robicheaux’s Cajun country of southern Louisiana, and Loren D. Estleman gave to Amos Walker’s Detroit.

Your beautiful home sure deserves one! And Sam is quite a character. Now, for thirteen years you were a New York police commander who supervised investigators. Please share with us what you do there.

I spent more than half of my police career serving as the CO of a specialized unit. The nature of these sections makes a supervisor’s life easier than for those who lead the line organizations of any agency. Everyone I worked with was chosen from a pool of volunteers. Everyone wanted to be there, doing that specific job. They were all self-motivated, experienced cops who wanted to investigate complicated and specialized cases. I dealt with the cream from a good crop. All I had to do was coordinate our efforts, offer some advice, check over reports, and make sure morale stayed high. I liked the people I worked with . . . then there was management.

You sure downplay your role, but how lovely to work with such people! You deserved that after serving in Vietnam and in the Reserves. Would you like to talk about Vietnam?

Young people should never be subjected to war. During the Vietnam conflict, the average age of the soldiers I saw serving in that country was between eighteen and nineteen years old. I was an old man—almost twenty-three when I got there on April Fool’s Day of 1969.

I served in a special warfare unit manned by career soldiers and volunteers. Our motto was ‘De Oppresso Libre.’ In English:‘Liberate the Oppressed.’ Unfortunately, most of the Vietnamese people didn’t want us in their country. They didn’t ask to be liberated or see their land occupied by a bunch of foreign soldiers who believed in the domino theory of Communist oppression and domination.

Discussing the ramifications of the Vietnam War could take me more time than I have left on earth.

Yes, I read Trang Sen by Sarah Anne Smith, a book about the Vietnamese and the Americans during that war. What happened on your return from Vietnam?

I returned to the U.S. after my time in Vietnam and a second “hard tour” in South Korea. I landed at McCord Air Base in Washington. The rhododendrons were in bloom. The pines reached way up into the sky and the Seattle-Tacoma region was experiencing a rare period of clear blue skies and sunshine—a beautiful homecoming. I walked from the Air Force facility to the civilian SEA-TAC airport where I would hop on an Army bus and ride to nearby Fort Lewis and the mustering out station.  I wore a set of custom-made khakis, spit-shined jump boots, a jaunty beret, and all the appropriate ribbon bars and silver badges. I thought I looked like the cat’s ass. While marching over the highly buffed terminal floor, I encountered the first two hippie panhandlers I’d ever seen. The male was tall and fat and bearded. The female would have been attractive had she been scrubbed with a push broom. He put down his guitar, lifted his T-shirt, and flashed a hairy stomach at me. She shook her tambourine, gave me the finger, and called me a baby killer. Welcome home, kid.

Here’s an excerpt from A LEPRECHAUN’S LAMENT and what Sam Jenkins said about his homecoming from the Vietnam War:

I felt similar to how I did after returning from overseas many years before. I spent two hard-tours in East Asia for the Army, one in Vietnam and one in South Korea. Upon my return to the U. S., I possessed little tolerance for the street punk or college student who somehow escaped national service and behaved like they knew something of the world. I believed that only I, and those of my ilk, owned the right to feel worldly or world-weary. We had seen it all and done most everything, or so we thought. But as I grew older, I learned most everyone gets to see and do just a little more.

Before all that, you worked in the fledgling business of computers—when they were seven feet tall. What happened there?

When I started college in 1965, a counselor bamboozled me into taking several courses in computer programming and data processing. He claimed that Sperry-Rand’s UNIVAC machines had been eclipsed by IBM and recommended I get into the business as advancements emerged. Back then, you wrote programs on paper worksheets and key punch operators transcribed each line onto a punch card to become one element of a total program. The older and simpler plug-board accounting machines were programmed by a series of wires telling the machine what to do. Both depended much on logic to instruct the computer. The programming methods I learned linked that logic with orderly common sense. I did well and during school scored a couple of part-time jobs to help provide tuition and gas and pizza money. After I graduated and got married, I found a cushy job at a major university. I wrote programs, but when a system runs well and no one asks to improve what works, there were no programs to write. So, I helped the machine operators run the computers and generate reports, payroll checks, billing statements, and whatever paperwork makes a business go around. That’s where my problems broke water. Operating a data processing machine is boring. My mind wandered. Inevitably, I pushed the wrong button or crossed hands and fed the wrong sequence of cards into the hopper. I was a disaster.

In retrospect, I realize the local draft board breathing down my neck saved me from getting sacked. Uncle Sam sent me a “greetings” letter, but I opted to speed up the inevitable by going into the Army three months early. I left the university a local hero.

I can envision some of that! When I started work in 1986, I wrote numerical programs and typed them into black and green screen of a fat computer. Then the operators run the programs at night time on seven-feet-tall mainframe computers, storing the data in big reels and giving us boxes of velocity rolls or seismic sections in the morning. And now it’s almost paperless! So, you were disenchanted with the IBM/data processing business then. You scrapped reentry into that world after returning from your stint with the Army overseas. You collected unemployment insurance until you were offered the only job compatible with your military background. Would you like to tell us more?

Almost five years later (there were aspects of the Army I liked and stayed a bit longer than my obligatory two years),  I separated from active duty and became one of the unemployed masses. A woman at the New York State Division of Employment asked if I wanted to return to the world of computers. Remembering the seven-foot-tall processing units, eighteen inch “RAMAC” discs, and massive reel-to-reel data drives clicking and ticking away in frigid air-conditioned dust-free rooms and the frantic month-end closing days of reports, reports, and more reports, I mumbled some excuse for not pursuing that career path.

Well,” she said, “based on what you did in the Army, you have no marketable civilian skills, but your military salary allows us to pay you the maximum unemployment benefit of $104.00 a week. Keep a record of the job interviews you go to and report in every Monday.”

FBI advanced firearms school 1977

I faced choices in life. Go back into the Army? I kinda liked the idea, but my wife hated it. To make a few extra bucks to help offset the high cost of New York life, I opted to go into the active reserves. Go back to school on the G.I. Bill? I didn’t know in which direction to go with further education. I decided to follow many indecisive young men from New York when looking for a job: Go into civil service. I could be a cop, a fire fighter, or a garbage man. Smoke gave me a headache and I didn’t want to spend twenty years smelling other people’s refuse. That left being a policeman. I liked the idea of the paramilitary structure, the chances for advancement, and the benefits. So, I took the entrance exams for the three major departments in the Metro New York area.

The results of the test I took on February 24th were published first. I placed number 24 on the list and was hired in the first academy class on April 24th. I found a bookie and played that number in all combinations.

Hahahahaha! You are witty like your character Sam 🙂 Speaking of your many writings, you sure are a very busy and a very happy retiree. Would you be so kind to give readers a one-sentence synopsis of each book? Please share your favourite paragraph in each book.

HEROES & Lovers by Wayne ZurlHeroes & Lovers

Synopsis:

After helping her friend Chief Sam Jenkins with a fraud investigation, a beautiful TV reporter is abducted in Prospect by a deranged fan.

Quote:

I rose up on my knees and unzipped my field jacket. I took it off slowly and dropped it on the floor. In doing so, he saw the holstered Glock hanging on my right hip.

“You have a gun?” He rose up, too, and snapped his pistol directly at my head. “You wanted to kill me.”

He sounded disappointed in me.

A Leprechaun’s Lament

Synopsis:

Records show that a long-term employee at Prospect city hall doesn’t really exist, and then the man is found dead in a Smoky Mountain creek bed, killed assassination style.

Quote:

I think about the little guy often. Murray McGuire looked like a leprechaun. He played darts like a pub champion and drank stout like a soccer star. If you worked for the city of Prospect and found problems with a piece of office equipment, Murray would work tirelessly to remedy your troubles. But after I interviewed him for thirty minutes, I could have cheerfully strangled the little bastard.

A New Prospect by Wayne ZurlA New Prospect

Synopsis:

A retired New York detective finds a job as police chief in the foothills of the Smoky Mountains, investigates a grisly homicide with less than a week on the job, and encounters more political corruption than he ever wanted to see.

Quote:

Few people believe me when I speak about my life altering experience at the checkout in Wal-Mart.

How long did it take you to write each of them?

I began writing my first novel, A NEW PROSPECT, in the summer of 2006 with no formal education in creative writing. It took a long time and served as a learning process not only on how to write fiction, but the publishing business in general. When I thought I’d finished, I hired a “book doctor” to evaluate the manuscript and received good news and bad news. The retired editor and author of nine novels told me he liked my main character, the story, and my writing voice, but . . . “It would have been a hit in 1985, but it doesn’t conform to the structure today’s publisher demands.”

So, I jumped through hoops to move chapters around, trim lots of fat, add some necessities, and got it ready to submit.

After a blessing from Dr. Book, I began sending query letters to literary agents. As the answers came trickling back and the rejections piled up, I began to wonder if my deodorant had failed. Then one of those pedantic power brokers who must have had a free afternoon sent a scribbled note saying, “I like the way you write, but a 60-year-old retired NY detective in Tennessee just isn’t trendy. Consider changing your character from a middle-aged police chief to a teen-aged private eye from Orange County.”

I gave up on the agent idea and began writing to any publisher willing to accept submissions directly from an author and accepted the first reasonable contract offered. A NEW PROSPECT was traditionally published in January 2011.

The next two novels came along quicker. I wrote them faster and a new publisher found me posting chapters at an on-line writer’s workshop and offered contracts. A LEPRECHAUN’S LAMENT was published in April 2012 and HEROES & LOVERS followed in August that year.

Interesting! How real are your characters?

I tell everyone I have more memory than imagination. Most of my characters are based on people I know/knew well. Sometimes they’re composites of multiple personalities. Some are caricatures of brief acquaintances. But they’re all real people. Being able to see these players makes writing dialogue easier. I can hear them—their voices and delivery, so duplicating their speech comes naturally.

I noticed that attention to speech 🙂 Now, how did you come up with the titles?

My first book began life as Murder in the Smokies. Reflecting on that, I didn’t want readers to think this was just another story of a murder investigation. I wanted the book to be more character driven and didn’t want a body by page 3. I woke up at 3 a.m. one morning and said, “A NEW PROSPECT.” A double meaning. A new prospect in life for former Detective Lieutenant Sam Jenkins and a new [city of] Prospect for the residents, gaining an honest and professional cop as their chief. Will Prospect ever be the same?

The second book’s main antagonist is a little redheaded guy named Murray McGuire. He claims parental ties to Ireland, but turns out to have no past and meets a horrible future. A LEPRECHAUN’S LAMENT seemed appropriate.

I first called HEROES & LOVERS Christmas in the Smokies, which sounded terribly bland. It took me until the end of the book to dream up something I liked better. The final title also has something of an ambiguous and double meaning.

What inspires you the most? 

Remember what I said about more memory than imagination? All my novels and all but two novelettes are based on actual incidents—either cases I investigated, supervised, or just knew a lot about. I’m never sure when or why I’ll get an idea or inspiration for something new, but these old memories surface and with luck I figure out how to twist things a little and transplant them from New York to Tennessee. In GRACELAND ON WHEELS (a soon to be published novelette) I took the New York murder of an old alcoholic who everyone thought to be wealthy and turned it into the killing of an Elvis Presley impersonator. Who knows where that transition came from?

And with your life experiences you have so much more memories to write about! When did you first know you just had to write?

I had been writing non-fiction magazine articles for ten years and woke up one morning feeling burnt out. Around the same time, I started reading Robert B. Parker’s NIGHT PASSAGE, the first Jesse Stone mystery. Parker’s premise was an ex-LAPD detective who became chief in a small Massachusetts town. A mental light bulb popped on. I had been a cop and Parker hadn’t. Why couldn’t I write about a retired New York detective who moved to Tennessee and found a chief’s job? How hard could it be? Refer back to Question #10 and that business about agents.

You’ve achieved so much since then. Who would you say have been the most influential authors in your life? What is it that really strikes you about their work?

I could make a long list of favorite authors, but for the sake of brevity, I’ll choose a few people who give me good reason to hold them in esteem.

Someone gave me a copy of James Lee Burke’s BLACK CHERRY BLUES and started me reading mysteries. I’ll always place Burke on my list of favorites and admit I’ll never be as technically as good as he, because my mind doesn’t work in the directions his does. Burke can describe people, places and events with pure poetry. He can also take you into a character’s head in psychological and philosophical ways that I admire.

I mentioned Robert B. Parker before. I like everything he wrote—Spenser, Jesse Stone, Sonny Randal, and the other non-series novels. His strong point is an easy-going, minimalist style. From him, I’ve gotten the urge to tell my stories in the fewest possible words. He did that quite well. I’m working on it.

I’ve read every piece of fiction and several of the non-fiction books from Joseph Wambaugh. He’s excellent with police procedurals because he’s an ex-cop. He gets the details right and doesn’t pander to expected formulas. His books aren’t for the action junkie who likes the unrealistic, over-the-top, fantasy police novels some best-selling authors peddle.  Joe writes interesting, compelling, and real police stories.

Who gives you the most encouragement?

No doubt about this—my wife. She offers plenty of encouragement, compliments, and a true touch of honesty and reality by saying, “I’d never want you to embarrass yourself. After I read something, I’ll tell you the truth.”

Tell us about your audio books and your experience producing them.

While I was trying to peddle A NEW PROSPECT to a publisher, I wrote shorter novelettes (the accepted definition of a novelette is between 7,500 and 17,500 words) for practice, but encountered problems trying to sell long stories to mainstream mystery magazines who typically want pieces between 3,000 and 5,000 words. Then I ran across a relatively new company called Mind Wings Audio who was looking for stories between 8 and 11 thousand words to produce as audio books (read by professional actors) and simultaneously publish as eBooks. They called them “commuter audio books” or something to listen to other than the same old am/fm station on trips to and from work. They duplicate the old-fashioned one-hour radio programs I remember from the 1940s and 50s. They sell very well and Mind Wings pays royalties faithfully. MP3 downloads far exceed compact discs and eBooks outsell them all. So far they’ve bought nineteen of these short Sam Jenkins mysteries.

 Any writing tips?

What you write should not only be grammatically correct and have all the elements of a well structured story but they should sound good. ALWAYS read your finished product aloud to yourself. It should flow smoothly, have rhythm. If you hit an awkward bump—reword it until it sings to you.

What are you working on right now? Tell us your latest news.

A new full-length novel is under contract and the publisher is doing the first round of edits. Here’s my proposed dust jacket summary for PIGEON RIVER BLUES:

Winter in the Smokies can be a tranquil time of year—unless Sam Jenkins sticks his thumb into the sweet potato pie.

The retired New York detective turned Tennessee police chief is minding his own business one quiet day in February when Mayor Ronnie Shields asks him to act as a bodyguard for a famous country and western star.

C.J. Profitt’s return to her hometown of Prospect receives lots of publicity . . . and threats from a rightwing group calling themselves The Coalition for American Family Values.

The beautiful, publicity seeking Ms. Proffit never fails to capitalize on her abrasive personality by flaunting her alternative lifestyle—a way of living the Coalition hates.

Reluctantly, Jenkins accepts the assignment of keeping C.J. safe while she performs at a charity benefit. But Sam’s job becomes more difficult when the object of his protection refuses to cooperate.

During this misadventure, Sam hires a down-on-his-luck ex-New York detective and finds himself thrown back in time, meeting old Army acquaintances who factor into a complicated plot of attempted murder, the destruction of a Dollywood music hall, and other general insurrection on the “peaceful side of the Smokies.”

Mind Wings has four novelettes on the coming soon list: NOTHING FITZ, THE SWAN TATTOO, ALVIS IS IN THE BUILDING, and GRACELAND ON WHEELS.

And I’m working on revisions of A TOUCH OF MORNING CALM, a novel about Korean organized crime in Tennessee.

How much do you have in common with your protag?

Reality and authenticity of detail mean a lot to me in mysteries or police procedurals. Allowing a reasonable amount of suspension of disbelief is good for any story, but too many bestselling authors insult our intelligence with what they write. I promise, I’ll never expect you to believe that in real life Sam Jenkins would shoot a steel cable from his wristwatch so he can “slide for life” across the gap between two tall buildings and chase a suspect over the rooftops of beautiful downtown Prospect, Tennessee. That’s pure hogwash. So, to bring this much needed authenticity to my stories (and make my writing life easier) I decided that my protagonist would act a lot like me. I can look back on twenty years of being a cop in a busy place and allow Sam to do what I would do and say what I might say. Initially, I thought it would be a chance to take that extra time often not available to a street cop, reason out a foolproof plan, and make everything come out perfect. But that’s not reality and perfect is boring. Sam occasionally acts impulsively and makes mistakes. We share the trait of sometimes lacking the patience necessary to do things safely. I hope readers grit their teeth, say, “Oh, Jenkins, you know better,” and feel the tension.

What are your hobbies apart from writing?

My wife and I travel a lot. With travel comes photography, and it’s a lot more enjoyable to take nature and landscape photos than to capture the nuances of a crime scene or dead body. A couple of years ago, we rekindled an old interest in fishing that had been on hiatus for more than thirty years. And like my protagonist, I have a keen interest in old British sports cars. Sam’s 1967 Austin-Healey 3000 is not a work of fiction.

Cool!

Sam-Jenkins-Austin-Healy

Sam Jenkins 1967 Austin-Healey 3000.
This series of police stories is full of interest, authenticity, humor, and quirky characters. The protagonist is middle-aged, not an alcoholic, he regards police work as fun, and remains steadfast in the philosophy that politicians should not try to influence a cop.

Tell us a bit about who or what matters to you.

I’ve always had a small family and not many of us are left. So, living a healthy and tranquil life sits high on my priority list. From a writer’s standpoint, before I fall off the perch, I wanted to bring readers a series of police stories full of interest, authenticity, humor, and quirky characters. My protagonist is not your average police/detective hero—he’s middle-aged, not an alcoholic, he regards police work as fun, and remains steadfast in the philosophy that politicians should not try to influence a cop. If nothing else, I hope readers finish a Sam Jenkins mystery and say, “Score one for the old guy.”

What one thing is important for your readers to know about you? Why?

I care how the public looks at the police. I believe that society has the right to expect more from the cops they hire than they might expect from themselves. No civil servant likes to hear a complainant say, “Hey, I pay your salary.” But that statement is true and the paying public deserves 100% professionalism and talent from a good cop. I do my best to make Sam Jenkins adhere to those standards. My stories come from real experience not something I learned after a two hour lecture at a writer’s conference. A combination of two Twitter messages I often use tells people what they can expect: He’s not just another fictional cop. Mysteries told in minimalist style. No BS. Meet Sam Jenkins.

Thank you so much for your time and the very interesting chat, Wayne.  Happy writing and best wishes!

Readers. I trust you have enjoyed meeting Wayne Zurl. Come visit his website and author pages on  Amazon,  B&N, and Mind Wings Audio. Follow Wayne on TwitterFacebookGoodreadsGoogle+.

His most recent novel, HEROES & LOVERS, is available from AmazonBarnes & Noble , and Books-A-Million

Now, here comes my mini review of Wayne’s novellete, Heaven’s Gate

Heaven’s Gate, reviewed by Ia Uaro

Author: Wayne Zurl

ASIN: B00DF9LHEG

Sam Jenkins is the Police Chief of quaint little town Prospect, which is peopled by real and quirky characters of friendly police officers, obnoxious Mayor Ronnie Shields, news-hungry journalists, and obtuse crooks. In Heaven’s Gate, Chief Jenkins goes undercover to buy automatic illegal weapons from a gun show hustler, with the money supplied by  the Bureau of Alcohol, Tobacco and Firearms.

The story opens with illegal-firearm trading by Patriots at the Gate, a neo-fascist militia group of genuinely patriotic but sadly misinformed men. Members of this group arm themselves with automatic weapons and military munition in order to defend their American ideals. They must prevent the minorities, women, and Democrats from forcing their ways on society.

 Heaven’s Gate is a short men fiction, which even female readers will be interested in. Here we learn about real police procedural with the right details but Wayne’s minimalist style prevent these details from bogging down the plot. An interesting look into the minds of gun lovers and black-market firearms, in a country where the  number of the annual gun casualties is extremely high.

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