Posted in Author Q&As

Author Q&A: Affinity Konar, “Mischling”

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To celebrate the paperback release of the amazing and emotional read, “Mischling,” I got a chance to ask author Affinity Konar some questions about the novel. I am a big fan of her debut work so I am thrilled to share her answers with you!

And if you haven’t read the book yet, go get a copy; you won’t be disappointed.


Why was this subject important for you to write about?
It was so important to me actually, that I wanted to not write it. My family left Poland in 1932, and were harbored safely in America, so while I was growing up I always felt pulled back to the period, and to what could have been, if my ancestors weren’t offered this refuge. I think it’s necessary to live with that warning in the back of your mind, especially today, to let it echo in remembrance. When I was a teenager, I found the story of the twins in Children of the Flames by Lucette Lagnado, and so many of the testimonies approached questions of to how to retain one’s own humanity, how to survive, resist, and attempt to restore oneself after unimaginable trauma. After I read that, I couldn’t stop imagining a conversation between a pair of twins whose bond was their refuge, their means to survival.


How did you find the balance between such a dark subject and an ultimately uplifting story?
The trickiness of finding that balance is one of the reasons that the book took so long to write. One doesn’t want to impose any kind of veneer that might lessen the trauma of a very real experience. But I wanted to pay tribute to stories of incredible endurance that I can’t help but be inspired by, specifically because they arose out of the extreme darkness of Shoah. So managing this element came down to voice for me, in the end. The imagery that arises out of the voices of Stasha and Pearl may be charming, but they function as veils for horror. It was my hope that the very necessity for these veils–or the fact that the girls would resort to such transformative thinking–would magnify the true peril that they endure.


What is your advice to aspiring authors?
I have to quote Sarah Manguso from “300 Arguments”. “I’ve written whole books to avoid writing other books.” That was my life for a long time. Nothing that came out of that avoidance was very good. So I’d say that honoring your desire to write about what scares you most is important. If it’s not terrifying you on a certain level, if might feel necessary enough to bring out the best you have to offer as a writer. Also, oatmeal is cheap and nutritious when times are lean, dogs are good for getting you out of the house, and you should read everything you can, whether you’re drawn to the text or not, because it all informs the kind of stance you’ll take on the page


What are you working on next?
It feels odd to talk about this, because this book has felt like my life’s work, and I honestly never expected to finish it, much less start another. But I have found myself writing in hotel rooms while touring, so I guess I won’t be stopping any time soon? It’s currently in chaos, but it’s a chaos centered by a search for meaning and restoration, and I suspect that this is an element that will always be afoot in whatever I attempt to do.



About the Author

2894415Affinity Konar was raised in California. While writing MISCHLING, she worked as a tutor, proofreader, technical writer, and editor of children’s educational workbooks. She studied fiction at SFSU and Columbia. She is of Polish-Jewish descent, and currently lives in Los Angeles.

She dearly misses writing about Pearl and Stasha, and is grateful to any reader who might find the company of the twins.

Posted in Author Q&As

Author Q&A: Justin W.M. Roberts

34122259I’m thrilled to be able to talk with another author about work and their craft. Justin W.M. Roberts, author of the action-packed “The Policewoman,” took some time to share his thoughts on his characters and his experiences as a writer.

– Where did the idea for this novel come from?

Drug trafficking is a problem faced by every country. It’s big business and it’s a matter of time drug cartels will try to take over a country.

 

– This novel not only had action, but a lot of emotion too – laughter, romance, etc. How did you balance that in your writing?

Well, the life a real police officer is not one action sequence to the next. In fact, 99% of it is boring. This book is art imitating the life of a police officer, albeit an extraordinary life.

– Why did you choose a female protagonist? 

Good question! This book is more of a military action thriller than a crime fiction novel. Since there aren’t any female officers in the UK’s Special Air Service, I need the main protagonist to be a female so there can be a romance element in the book.

– What authors do you enjoy reading in your spare time?

I enjoy reading Tom Clancy, JK Rowling, Andy McNab, and Chris Ryan

– What advice would you give to aspiring authors?

Just write! Send your work to a lot of people so they can send their feedback.

– What are you working on next?

The Policewoman is book one of a series. I’m currently writing the sequel.


About the Author

Justin W.M. Roberts was born in London, son of a British Army General, and grew up in Hong Kong, Germany, and England. After graduating from Hull university with a degree in Politics, Philosophy, and Psychology, he continued traveling and living Europe, Africa, and Asia.

He currently lives in Indonesia where he is an analyst of political affairs and an active promoter of secular humanism.

Authors of military thrillers are welcome to PM him (on Goodreads) for book reviews.

Posted in Author Q&As, Book Extras

Goodreads celebrates “Mystery and Thriller Week” with Lisa Jackson Q&A!

NI’ve made no secret about the fact that Lisa Jackson is one of my favorite authors – so I was so excited to see that she is one of the authors featured in the Q&A section of Goodreads’ “Mystery and Thriller Week” feature.

Goodreads users were able to submit questions for Jackson to answer about writing, publishing and her characters.

Here’s my favorite bits below:

Continue reading “Goodreads celebrates “Mystery and Thriller Week” with Lisa Jackson Q&A!”

Posted in Reviews

The Most Dangerous Place on Earth by Lindsey Lee Johnson

The Most Dangerous Place on EarthThe Most Dangerous Place on Earth by Lindsey Lee Johnson

My rating: 4 of 5 stars

3.5 stars, rounded up to 4.

This book is about teenagers, but is definitely an “adult” book: it shows the gritty, seedy underbelly of a world where everyone looks ok on the surface, but underneath, is a complex personality filled with conflict.

The book loosely follows a first-year teacher at Mill Valley High School, an upper-class SAN Francisco suburban high school where her core group of students seem to have it all: from the material to good looks, bright futures, etc. But each of them harbors an intense secret – all strung together by one tragedy in eighth grade. As Miss Nicholls tries to understand her students, she is pulled into a world where nothing is what it seems.

The book is set up so that Molly Nicholls, the teacher, narrates every other chapter, while one student tells theirs in the alternating chapters. It’s an interesting approach, but the timeline gets really confusing. There’s a couple of events which center the narrative, but it’s really all over the place.

Also, if you’re looking for happy endings, this book is not it. It’s very short in good feelings. But it did keep my attention until the end. I really wanted to know what happened to these kids, good or bad. The story was good, if a little (ok, a lot) depressing.

Perhaps if there had been some overarching positive ending to take away, I might have rated the book higher. But in the end, while I did want to know what happened, when I found out, I was really bummed. Like, there’s not a lot to grasp onto here.

I mean, I get that it’s a cautionary tale, but Jay-sus.

I would definitely read this author again, she very clearly has great storytelling skills. I just wish this book had been slightly different.

View all my reviews

Posted in Uncategorized

Author Q&A: Randall Silvis

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To celebrate the release of the thriller “Two Days Gone,” I’m excited to be talking to author Randall Silvis about the story and its unique storyline, which follows both the killer and the police.

Be sure to check out a chapter one preview and enter for a chance to win a copy of the book!

Below, Silvia talks about the story’s origins, his favorite authors and whether we’ll see Ryan DeMarco in the future.

Where did you get the inspiration for this story?

Inspiration comes to me in bits and pieces: an intriguing setting, an interesting character, an unconventional premise, and sometimes just a provocative title. For Two Days Gone, the setting came first: I crossed Lake Wilhelm three days a week while commuting to the university, and each time was beguiled by the dark water, the woods, the bogs, the menacing possibilities. The setting dictated that the book would be a murder mystery. This required an investigator. The character of Sergeant Ryan DeMarco, a lonely, gruff, haunted man dragging himself through the misery of his life each day, grew a bit more each time I envisioned him standing beside the lake. I then decided to make the prime suspect an academic, but one who, like me, saw himself on the fringe of academia. I then decided that I wanted to feature the most horrific crime I could imagine. Once all those pieces fell into place, the storyline wrote itself.

This book has a lot of literary allusions and symbols. How did you decide to incorporate that theme?

My prime suspect is a writer and literature professor. How could there not be lots of literary allusions and symbols?

One of the major themes also is about love and what that means. Why did you decide to show these deep subplots – particularly with DeMarco?

Love is all that matters. Can anyone be truly happy if he has no one to love and isn’t loved in return? The novel is, as most of my stories are, about redemption; love is the ultimate redemption, and the lack of love the ultimate failure.

Both main characters are deeply flawed in some way but find some redemption. What do you want readers to take away from their situations?

All I hope is that the reader cares enough to share the characters’ journeys, and to be emotionally connected to them, and therefore to their own emotions.

Will we be seeing Trooper DeMarco again?

At least once more. The working title for the second DeMarco mystery is The Bones’ Embrace. I will continue the series as long as readers want me to, and as long as I can find new ways for DeMarco to grow.

What is the next project you’re working on?

In addition to The Bones’ Embrace, I am also working on another stand-alone crime novel titled Dancing on Water, and a mainstream/magic realism novel called Esperando.

Who are your favorite authors?

The writers I cut my teeth on are Hemingway, Faulkner, Garcia-Marquez, and Flannery O’Connor. I also love the poetical prose of William Gay, the gritty prose of Pete Dexter, the musical prose of James Lee Burke, the lyrical prose of Karen Russell, the playful prose of Vonnegut and Barthelme, and the often comma deficient prose of Jim Harrison. And there are many others whose writing I enjoy as well, such as Katherine Vaz and Edith Pearlman and Eco and Atwood and Mailer and more. I like writers who write differently—whose prose does not sound like everybody else’s prose and whose vision of the world is a little or a lot sideways to the rest of the world’s. I abhor the conventional and any writing that never yaws from the conventions of its genre.

For more on Silvis’ work, follow him on Twitter at https://twitter.com/randallsilvis

Posted in Uncategorized

Author Q&A: Derik Cavignano, “Colony of the Lost”

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What happens when you rebuild on the same site as a colony of settlers who just vanished into thin air? Could what threatened them come back around?

This idea is what Derik Cavignano explores in “Colony of the Lost,” a thriller that has a band of misfits coming together to defeat a threat to their modern-day town, which may have roots in Pilgrim times.

From the back of the book:

Nestled in the heart of the Berkshires lies Glenwood, Massachusetts–the perfect picture of suburbia. But when the children of this affluent town begin vanishing one by one, baffling local and federal authorities alike, Glenwood becomes anything but a utopia.

Built upon the ruins of a lost colony, Glenwood is home to a long-forgotten secret, and when three strangers are lured into the midnight woods by the phantom of a Puritan boy, they discover the truth of the town’s dark past and must face a vision of its bloody future.

Together, this unlikely trio–Jay, an alcoholic school teacher, Tim, a wise-cracking new kid in town, and Sarah, a nine-year-old with a host of imaginary friends–must somehow find a way to rescue the town from an ancient demon and its legion of human slaves. But in order for them to succeed, Jay must first conquer his own inner demons.

Below, Cavignano discusses his taut thriller and how it came about – as well as gives advice to fellow writers:

“Colony of the Lost” combines several different horror elements into one spooky tale; How would you describe your book to readers?

Colony of the Lost is about a trio of unlikely heroes who join forces to battle a terrifying evil threatening their town. It’s part ghost story, part creature feature, and even contains a bit of sci-fi and fantasy. It’s a character-driven story that pits good versus evil and celebrates the power of the human spirit.

Continue reading “Author Q&A: Derik Cavignano, “Colony of the Lost””