Anita's Haven

books, thoughts, stories, poetry, interviews, writing

The 9th Hour by Claire Stibbe – my review

Detective stories have been among my favourites ever since I can remember. This book is the first in a series, so, although its lead detective Temeke is quite an acquired taste, burdened with plenty of faults and not many likeable habits, his pitbull-like persistence and dedication might just make you a fan and follower of his further cases. Although my personal favourite would be his assistant partner Malin, as I found her more relatable at times. It will be interesting to see them grow in further books.

The crime in The 9th Hour is a series of particularly gruesome killings of teenage girls, with much to stomach – at one point it reminded me of The Silence of the Lambs. The author displays a veritable knack for telling parts of the story from the killer’s point of view, and, as disturbing as they may be, they impressed me the most. The villain is vile and fascinating, powerful and disgusting. His victims are shockingly naive, yet perfectly plausible, and not all of them what he expected them to be (yay!).

It is a risk for an author to let us know who the killer is from the start and then let us wait it out to see how, when or if he will eventually be caught, but intriguing and engaging just the same. Like me, you might find yourself having all these brilliant ideas on what you would do and who you would call; you, that is, or any other famous detective you’ve already met/read.

But Stibbe makes the detectives painfully human and susceptible to mistakes, just like the rest of us. Temeke and Malin are given no superhero powers, extraordinary abilities or phenomenal gadgetry and financial support to solve the crime. At times, even their own police department is a questionable resource of support, be it due to resentment, envy, laziness or mere inability to fathom the extent of malice in the crime itself. What is memorable, especially in the final showdown, is their tenacity, persistence and a sheer need to catch this mentally brilliant and emotionally damaged killer, also a fallible human being but unpardonable.

This is not a detective story for the faint-hearted, make no mistake. But if you enjoy an intense thriller and a pair of detectives, which obviously grows as it goes, considering the awards the author has won for the sequel, meet Temeke and Malin by all means.

This book on Amazon

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LAWLESS JUSTICE by Karina Kantas -new release


Author and book promoter Karina Kantas has a new episode of her Outlaw series out! It’s Lawless Justice and it’s free on Kindle Unlimited. A girl biker gang bringing justice to the streets? Check it out here.

(The following promo images have been provided by the author.)

In case you want to know more about each vigilante, here are some sneak peeks.

For more, read the books! 

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Recommending…

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Such an intriguing and touching story… Read my review here.

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Recommending…

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Recommending #romance #books #romance – great villains and good guys&gals by Elizabeth Newton! Read my review here.

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And what do YOU have to say? – E. H. NEWTON – interview no.21

A truly fascinating lady, author Elizabeth Horton-Newton, has agreed to be my guest today. She will talk about writing and publishing, but also her projects concerning social issues every parent and educator, every responsible adult, should be paying attention to and doing something about.

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1.  If you were to introduce yourself in five simple sentences, what would you say about your current self?

I’ve been writing since I was about ten years old. Driving gives me ideas for books. Traveling gives me the opportunity to meet new people. Photography is my second avocation. I often write from a male perspective.

2. Your book, A View from the Sixth Floor, is getting some really good reviews. Congratulations! What was the seed for that book?  How did it start? At what point were you actually aware that you were indeed writing a full-length novel?

The seed for “View From the Sixth Floor” was born many years ago when I decided I didn’t believe the government story on the assassination of President John Kennedy. I began researching the event and the life of the accused assassin Lee Harvey Oswald. The more I read the more convinced I became that he was innocent. Somewhere along the way I thought how unfortunate it was that he didn’t live to defend himself and perhaps prove he had not fired that shot from the sixth floor window. Once I began to write the book I was surprised at how easily it came together. It was almost as though it flowed from my fingers. Perhaps I channeled Oswald.

3.  Your book blurb is full of what ifs. So allow me to ask you a what if question? What if Ellizabeth Noreen Newton got offered  a publishing book contract to write absolutely whatever she wanted to, all expenses paid? What would you write about, how would you promote it, what would be your writing dream?

I think I would like to write a book about the history of my mother’s family. She was from Ireland and told me many stories about her childhood and stories that were shared with her growing up. I think it would be absolutely magical to live in County Galway and research the family and write about their experiences. One of my uncles was actually a writer in Ireland and had a book published in Gaelic. My mother and several of her siblings lived in London during WWII. Promoting it would be interesting since I could include photos of family, the town and possibly the farm where they lived for generations. I think it’s altogether possible I will make this dream come true.

4.  You are a New Yorker who moved to the South 25 years ago. What was the most difficult thing for you in the whole change? What is the one thing you appreciate most about your current Southerner lifestyle?

The most difficult thing in transitioning from a big and busy city like New York to a southern and laid back small city like Knoxville is the lack of public transportation. I know that sounds crazy but in New York buses and subways run twenty-four hours a day and you can get anywhere easily. I didn’t even have a driver’s license. Suddenly I couldn’t even get to a grocery store without a car. On the positive side, everyone in your community is willing to help out in the south. Believe me when I first moved I begged a lot of rides to shop.

5.  You are highly involved in your community, tackling unpleasant issues such as bullying, domestic violence, and lately teen date violence. How come you got so deeply involved in the whole process and what are you hoping to achieve?

I wasn’t bullied as a child although there was one incidence when a friend and I were in the fourth grade. We were walking home from school when a group of older girls and one boy proceeded to torment us, pulling our hair and so forth. My friend was smaller than I was and I was furious. I stood up to the kids but I was really scared. When I got home and told my father what happened he went back to the street with me and confronted the kids and insisted on speaking to their parents. The very next day the same kids again approached us and tried to intimidate my friend but not me. That REALLY made me mad and I told them off. They never bothered us again. The domestic violence and teen dating violence comes from having had those experiences. I was abused by fiancé when we were dating at seventeen and eighteen. I was too ashamed to tell anyone. After our marriage he continued to be abusive throughout our marriage. After ten years and three children and the escalation of the abuse I knew I had to leave. He had also begun to be cruel to our kids. The most important thing I hope to accomplish by my advocacy is to raise awareness of these issues. I want victims to know there are steps to take to remove themselves from dangerous situations, I want families to recognize the signs of abuse whether it be bullying (workplace or mobbing), intimate partner violence, or teen dating violence.

6.  Do you feel like an author?  How do you feel when you write?  Is it difficult to return to the reality of everyday life once you leave the pages of your book? Do you get attached to your characters?

As strange as it sounds I have always felt like a “writer”. I have always communicated most effectively by writing. Even when I am doing the everyday things like shopping or laundry or driving I am thinking what would my character be doing? What is she or he thinking; I try to get in their heads. It is very difficult to let my characters go. I am only fully able to do it when I see the finished book or story and know the characters have said all they needed to say.

7.  What do you like to do when you are not working or writing? How do you relax?

I relax by reading books, especially by other indie writers. Traveling is my favorite thing to do. Seeing new places is always a thrill. I like to snorkel. I love anything to do with the ocean. Taking photos is always fun. And if I am stuck at home I love to watch true crime and court shows. In fact I would say I am addicted to them.

8.  At this point in your life, what are you most proud of?

That’s a tough question. I’m certainly proud of my novel “View From the Sixth Floor”. I’m proud of the work I do to raise awareness about domestic violence and bullying. I’m proud of the four children I’ve raised and my five wonderful grandchildren. I’m proud of the fact I was able to escape an abusive marriage and become successful, first as a social worker then as a writer. I developed positive relationships with my clients and some of them have transitioned to become successful. Now that I am no longer working in the field we are friends. They know they can always reach out to me for advice or just to chat.

9.  What do you want your readers to think and feel while and after reading your books?

I want them to sit back and think “That was a good story”. I did have a slightly ulterior motive with “View from the Sixth Floor”. I wanted people to think about the whole event and look at it from a different perspective. It had a bit of a political statement buried in there; don’t be so quick to trust the government.

10.  What is the one genre you just don’t see yourself ever writing? What genre would you love to try and tackle?

I don’t think I could ever write children’s books. I can make up stories to tell my granddaughters and I did some with my grandsons when they were little. But I don’t think I could write a book. I want to try to write a real horror story someday, something that would make my readers sleep with the lights on. These are the kinds of books I like.

11. Would you like to add anything about your current work or send a message to the readers?

I’m currently working on a romantic mystery thriller called “Riddle”. It’s about a fictional town in the Northwestern United States and a young man who is a first nation or aboriginal and he was adopted by a white family as an infant. While in high school he is accused and convicted of murdering his girlfriend. After over seven years in prison he is released and returns to the town of Riddle. He meets a young woman who has been stranded in the town when her car breaks down and they form a friendship. Along with being a murder mystery it also deals with the prejudices against aboriginal natives as well as how many children of first peoples were removed from their biological parents because it was believed they would have better lives. So while it is a thriller it also has some political overtones. I hope to have it released in the summer of 2015. It will be a nice sexy summer read that I hope will make readers think.

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And what do YOU have to say? – J. M. BREWER – interview no.20

INTERVIEW TIME

Joseph Mark Brewer, the author of The Gangster’s Son, is here to talk about his writing method, combining the work of journalist and writer, and the challenges an author faces when planning an intricate plot of an exotic thriller. He will also announce the upcoming adventure of his signature detective Sato.

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1. You write crime mysteries, involving plenty of plots and subplots. How much pre-planning do they require and is it difficult for you to balance plotted plans and creative freedom?

The mysteries require lots of planning for story structure and the whodunit aspect, but I don’t find it difficult to balance plot against creative freedom. I find creativity in dreaming up the crimes, the culprits, the scenarios, the dialogue – creativity within a structure, so to speak. I find thinking about what a character might say or do, what comes next, all of that to be very fulfilling. That’s true in  mystery or any other type of story.

2. Your work combines journalism and navy. How much has being in the navy influenced your work?

I served in the Navy when I was in my 20s and that experience was useful in learning my craft, both as a fiction writer and a journalist. I went to the military’s journalism school, then lived aboard ships and traveled to dozens of cities and countries in Europe, the U.S. and Asia. That was invaluable in developing understanding of different cultures, empathy, and expanding a world view other than the one I might have had if I remained in the Midwestern U.S.  I think all of this helps when creating worlds for fiction readers to enjoy. And, this has helped me become a better journalist, both as a reporter and editor. 

3. ​How different is your writing process as a mystery author from that of a journalist? Word limit and deadlines only or much more?

I find a lot of similarities. My work as a journalist these days involves editing stories, writing headlines, selecting the photos, writing the captions and putting it all together on the page. It’s helpful to think of the deadline first, then plan your workday backwards, a reverse progression. This type of planning is good training for a mystery writer. Can you present the reader with everything they need when they need it in order to keep them interested in the story? Can you present  events without giving anything away but keep the reader interested and turning the page? Can you as the writer go backwards through the series of events and fine the holes in the plot and the unnecessary detours? 

4. Your main character Sato seems quite charismatic. What do you see as his best quality and his worst flaw and why?

Sato is blessed with a natural commanding presence and sense authority. People see him as competent and able. His best quality is that he is thoughtful and cares deeply about solving crimes and helping people. His worst flaw is that he does not know how to say no to people asking for help, especially when he thinks he is in the person’s debt. This seldom works out well for him.

5. Describe your writing process, please. Allow us to picture it. Is there a special kind of pen & paper you use? Do you only type your books? How do you go about editing? Where do you like to write most?

All of my stories begin as thoughts written onto legal pads with a regular ballpoint pen, as random as random can be, while sitting somewhere and doing little else but brainstorming. When I start crafting the story I usually have a sequence of events in mind, and so assemble the events into an outline and begin writing out scenes and dialogue. It’s at this point I begin entering it all into my computer, usually scene by scene, typically divided into three parts.

When the time comes to get serious about completing the first draft, I get through it rather quickly, usually 10,000 words or more a week. It’s the editing that slows everything down. I print out the first draft for an edit, send the second draft to two people for a beta read and get lots of feedback and lots of corrections, and typically overhaul the outline. I write the log line, the synopsis, really try to get the crux of the story committed to paper. This is usually when things fall apart. So the third and subsequent drafts amount to the rewrite and sharpening and tightening, and then I give it to my editor to comb through. Finally, I read the manuscript aloud for flow and continuity, and invariably catch little things then as well.

I do most of my writing by hand, though, listening to music (jazz or classical – rock doesn’t seem to work for me in this case), sitting on the couch, in front of the television, watching a movie. I find that this somehow frees a creative channel in my brain, and the ideas pour out. Over the years I have found that I can write anywhere – home, work, driving, you name it. I find it hard to stop thinking about the story and I find I’m ‘writing’ it in my mind until I get a chance to write it all down. And thanks to my undisciplined mind, I think of different parts of different stories one after another. I never know when one idea triggers another.

6. If you could have any famous book character do a ‘cameo’ appearance in your book, who would be your guest and why?

Tony Hillerman’s Lt. Joe Leaphorn. I think Leaphorn and Sato would hit it off without saying much of anything. Both would function well in the other’s world. And I think Leaphorn would appreciate the talents of Sato’s sidekick, Ken Abe. 

7. Do you see yourself writing in any other genre? Which and why?​ 

I have written or am writing three novels in other genres, one a thriller, one contemporary adult fiction, another a historical novel with a small mystery/crime element. I love writing stories and creating new worlds. I have no talent for science fiction or fantasy, but I enjoy reading it. For me it all comes down to telling a good story.

8. What did you want to be when you were a little boy? And are you that now?

Way back when I wanted to become a teacher. I sometimes view journalism and communication as a way of educating and informing. To me, it’s all about being curious and learning. That’s one of the reasons I’m tackling indie publishing. I’m a lifelong learner and hope that never stops.

9. Who is your most trusted reader and critic?

My son. I tell him all my plots and schemes and he gives very honest feedback. And he’s a terrific editor.

10. Which author made a great impact on your writing and why?

Patrick O’Brian, who wrote the Aubrey-Maturin ‘Master and Commander’ series. He created a world that is easy to gets lost in and sustained a narrative through 20 volumes, each story fresh despite repeating characters. It’s a master class on historic fiction, adventure, romance, some mystery and it’s all a great read. Very daunting and inspiring.

11. Would you like to add anything about your current work or send a message to the readers?

Book 2 in the Shig Sato Mystery series, The Thief’s Mistake, to be released in April 2015. Book 3, The Traitor’s Alibi, will be available for preorder this autumn. For more details, visit J. M. Brewer fb , J. M. Brewer website, or J. M. Brewer twitter .

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Joseph’s book

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Author duel – Katheryn Caffee vs/& Wolfgang Schimanski

So happy to host two completely different indie authors in a battle of wit, challenging each other with pictures to write stories. A double-whammy sandwich post with two great stories for free. Keep reading and sharing!

KATHERYN CAFFEE

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This is in reply to the picture Wolfgang sent me.
You’ve Been Challenged – Round 3
In 800 to 1000 words, write a story about this picture. Image provided by Wolfgang Schimanski

“My precious. Where is my precious?” The creature crawling along the floor whispered to itself.
Nameless gave it a brief glance, sizing it up in a moment as a non-threat. Between how thin it was, its posture screamed more loudly than words the creature was not a fighter. The fact that it did not have a collar around its neck, however gave him pause when it turned to glare at him and hold out its hand.
“Give me my precious. I know you have it.” it hissed at him.
Caught with his head up, and his eyes roaming when he wasn’t in the Sands or the cells, he cringed inside expecting to feel the searing lash of his master’s whip. He flicked his eyes at the dark robes ahead of him, and hurried to resume his proper place a long pace behind his master’s left shoulder. The creature behind him hissed in vexation, and scuttled after him.
Torn between the need to obey his master, and his instinctive reaction to someone approaching him aggressively, his feet started pattering out his signature dance steps there on the hard stone floor. The break from his normal silent steps finally attracted his master’s attention, and Gartal turned to see what was going on.
“Gives me my precious!” the creature demanded, the gravely voice hissing against the stone walls with a sound similar to when the walls crawled with Her littlest Children. Though his master has stopped, the boy child did not stop dancing. He remained in place, pattering out his readiness to kill.
“Imp! I though you had been banished from this Arena! Get away from him!” Gartal growled, stepping towards the creature, his hand raised in preparation to strike.
“They took my precious. Give me my precious and I leave. You have my precious!” The imp pointed at the child, and Gartal looked at the slowly quieting fighter.
“What do you want, imp? If it will get you out of here, without having to soil my hands on your filthy hide, just take it!” Gartal groused, turning his back on the pair, and looking up to the ceiling where several crystals had shifted colors. “Make it quick, or I may let the Silk warm up by killing you. Would do you both some good.”
The imp charged forward, his hand outstretched to snatch free the child’s red loincloth. His charge was met with an explosion of activity. The child caught his hand before it could close on the cloth. Thumbs locked together, the child wrenched the imps arm into an unnatural angle, forcing it to produce a wet crack as it bent. His feet pattered across the stone floor as his momentum built into a devastating that was never delivered. Gartal heard the crack and the sudden tempo of dancing feet in time to whirl, “Silk! Stop!”
The child briefly halted where he stood, then toppled over as his inertia forced his body to continue in the direction it had last been traveling. As he toppled to the floor, the imp jerked his loincloth free and wrapped it around his head. Then, with a hissing cackle, it scuttled down the corridor into one of the more dimly lit areas.
Neither the child nor his master heard the unhealthy wheezing abruptly stop when it vanished because Gartal had already begun flogging the child for acting without orders. Once more the Silk whip drove home the imperative that shaped the boy’s life: Obey exactly and immediately.

The above piece of flash fiction could easily fit into the early life of Nameless the main character in K. Caffee’s Followers of Torments Saga. If you are interested, you can find her work on Smashwords or Amazon.

WOLFGANG SCHIMANSKI

Here is my story from the picture supplied by Katheryn Caffee. Hope y’all enjoy it ! 

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THE CAT THAT KNEW TOO MUCH

I am a cat. But not just any cat. A cat who knows too much, way too much. Why is that, you ask? Glad you did as it’s too complicated to answer with a simple one liner. Call me Boris; I was born as part of a litter of five. I am a bonafide Persian with a little bit of Heinz 57 thrown in for good measure. 
My Daddy was a Preacher and my Momma was an alley cat. Kind of the other way around actually but it sounds cool, right? Daddy would chase down any available Kitty Kat in sight and take care of business like the Tom he was and Momma was left holding down the fort and providing for all of us offspring.
We lived in a loft with an interesting family named Johnson whose first names not co-incidentally started with J. John was the patriarch, Joanne the mother and the kids were Jason and Jasmine. And they had the gall to call me Boris but I didn’t feel too bad as my brothers and sisters names all started with other letters as well. I guessed, no I knew that it was a human/cat thing. 
All of us kittens grew up fairly normal learning the key elements of litter box training, chasing after cloth mice and then real ones, but most importantly to stay out of John’s way when he was writing. He was extremely focused when he was working and he worked the crime beat for a major metropolitan newspaper. We all learned pretty quickly what the repercussions were when my brothers and sisters tried to play with his printed pages; a nasty cuss, a boot in the behind, or a squirt of water from a spray bottle that he always managed to have handy. And all of us kittens hated water, except me of course because I was the odd duck…oops kitten of the bunch.
I would not go near John when he was writing but if he ever left any printed pages lying around, all bets were off. You see, I had a gift that no other cat or any animal for that matter had, I could read. I devoured his research and bylines like my brothers and sisters did voles, mice, chipmunks and even the occasional small bunny, in season of course. 
John was working on a particular complex story about a Financial Services company that rose from the ashes to become one of the key players in the industry and in the Stock Market in the matter of a few years. This was sounding too purrrfect to me to be true. Normally, it would take years for an organization such as this to rise to prominence. Something smelled really fishy, even more so than that Friskies fish pate we get served once in a while which my brothers and sisters gobbled up like starved calves. I, of course, knew better. I read the ingredients and realized we’d be lucky if a trace of a fish fin was actually in this by-product concoction. 
John, through meticulous research, traced the company back to a mysterious individual that appeared at the same time that this company began its rise to market dominance. What made my whiskers curl even more was that John could find out very little, if anything, about this mysterious and exotic individual. Strange and unexplained things were happening in the city especially after this company and its elusive chairman appeared on the scene.
I was fascinated and would sneak on silent pads into John’s office whenever the opportunity arose and I let my siblings know in certain terms I was not to be disturbed. I had the sharpest claws and I knew how to use them. The more I found out, the more frustrated I became. I could read but I couldn’t tell anyone as after all we cats don’t have vocal cords and all a lot of meowing would get us is a trip outside in that nasty -20 degree weather we’ve been having.
To make a long story short, curiosity got a hold of this cat and I just had to see through my own slit eyes what was going on with this long haired, dusky and according to John, extremely dangerous Russian. I was going on a road trip to find out what the scoop was and I mean that literally. But that will be a story for another day and another time. My immediate problem was going to be how curiosity was not going to kill this cat. Because I just knew too much.

Wolfgang’s thrillers are available on Amazon, storming the genre with his unique voice!

Anita Kovacevic

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Island Paradise – another challenge

Author duels continue! This time E. N. Newton provides you with a fabulous tale! Have fun!

Between the Beats

cook islands

As the sun began to set into the ocean I settled back against the base of the tree. Hidden from view I began what would be a short wait. I had observed them for a week and they always met in the last moments of the day when the final glow of sunlight spread across the water. Granted it was a tad cloudy this evening and the sunset might not be as spectacular as the past few days but I was certain they would show up. I could see heavy clouds in the distance but they seemed far enough away not to deter them from their assignation.

I drew the pack of cigarettes from the pouch around my waist and pulled out the half smoked samples distributing them around my feet. Frowning I wondered if they looked too neatly arranged and proceeded to stir them around in the sand, my…

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And what do YOU have to say? – M. FINE – interview no.18

INTERVIEW TIME

Today’s interview features Mark Fine, a remarkable man whose lifestory itself would make a fascinating novel. A workaholic dad, philanthropist, successful entrepreneur and author of appraised historical thriller, The Zebra Affaire, shares with us his views and experiences.

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​> 1. First of all, congratulations on The Zebra Affaire. I love the title. Did it come before the book, or did it slowly evolve with the story?

Thanks for this opportunity to interview with you, Anita. The title was there from at the novel’s inception. For me the zebra has always been a metaphor for South Africa the country, with its body-form representing the entire nation, but the discrete black / white stripes a symbol of that nation’s segregated human society. That said, my initial title was “Affaire Zebra” – I liked the completeness that those letters from A to Z seemed to represent, but it felt a little contrived so I embraced “The Zebra Affaire”.

> 2. The love story in the plot deals with some major socio-political questions (racism, poverty, violence). How difficult was it to stick to the story and steer away from ‘preaching’?

After living in the United States since 1979, I’ve felt apartheid has not been well understood here, more of a bumper sticker slogan view of things. In reflection I realized why, being previously a British colony South Africa was never part of America’s sphere of influence. I sensed this knowledge gap and chose to focus on filling that information void by providing context for what was happening at the time in my book. I then let the characters—specifically the villains, by their actions, provide the reader with the evidence to judge their repulsive actions; hence there was no need for me to gild the lily and be preachy.

> 3. What do you think made your characters fall in love? Do you call yourself a romantic and do you believe modern couples still have the strength to fight odds?

I’ve always held the view that love and romance were not trivial. That despite the billions of people on this planet it is a surprisingly difficult task to discover one’s true intended. This makes that chance meeting, no matter the bizarre circumstances, critical in finding true love—and if that’s the case, there is no doubt in my mind it is something worth fighting for. In the instance of Elsa and Stanwell, where the full might of their government was railed against them, their fortitude was tested beyond all reason. In this regard, I do wonder how many of us would dare take on that kind of challenge in the name of love.

> 4. What do you find easier to write – tangling the thriller, developing the political drama or writing about romantic intimacy?

In the instance of “The Zebra Affaire” I definitely lead through the political drama—I felt South Africa’s unseemly past, with those unkind events being so relatively recent, was the essence of the book’s foundation.

> 5. Do you believe in pre-planning your story or do you research as you go?

Both. I initially drafted a three page skeleton outline that mapped the story’s arc. However, as I added flesh to those bones in the form of details, considerable research was necessary. I’d estimate a third of the time devoted to writing the novel was set aside for research.

 
> 6. When you started the book, did you know how you wanted it to end? And did it?

Yes and yes. This seems like hubris, but please let me explain. When I began the writing process I was from the get go determined to complete my book. It may seem counterintuitive, but I felt if I mapped out the conclusion at the beginning, I’d have a clear destination as a goal to write toward. Of course I tweaked plenty as I went along, but the basic structure and ending remained sacrosanct.

> 7. The reviews you got are most flattering. Do you think they may be dangerous – drowning creativity by feeding the ego, or do you find them motivating?

Feedback is crucial. Writing tends to be a solitary endeavor where the author exists within his or her own echo chamber. It is only when engaging with others can I appreciate how my words may have resonated, and reviews are the first instance of this “dialog” with my readers. Beyond their reviews, I so much enjoy meeting my readers at the Book Club meetings. Of course I’m delighted by the overwhelmingly kind responses, but it is not a matter of ego, rather it is matter of motivation to begin work on my next project.

> 8. You use everyday heroes to write about history. Have you ever read any Mika Waltari? Which authors do you find inspiring?

Personally, the more plausible the heroes are, the more rewarding the read is for me.  I find it crucial to be able to relate in some way to what the characters are experiencing. Alas, I haven’t read Mika Waltari (but promise to do so). As for inspiring authors, sadly recently deceased, South African author Andre Brink of “A Dry White Season” fame remains a giant—a courageous truth-teller. And then I will read anything by Alan Furst, there is a confidence in his writing that is so period and character-rich.

> 9. You have also been highly successful in organizing global charity projects (breast cancer research, animal preservation, freedom of speech, etc.), involving some admirable celebrities. Looking back now, how difficult was it to organize those events?

There were so many moving parts! Identifying a suitable cause and then building the entire cause and entertainment marketing enterprise around it remained complicated. I quickly figured out that we could best serve a cause if there was a powerful call-to-action at the heart of the campaign, for example “Early Detection Saves Lives” for breast cancer awareness. This is where the participating celebrities were most effective in spreading the message to both their adoring fans and an attentive media—and as a result shine a light on these vital issues.

I enjoyed conceiving and orchestrating these happenings; mind you it was enriching for everyone involved—the ideal win-win-win situation where creative need, commercial need and the needs of the greater community were all amply met. My regret is that there was no real template; each project was a customized effort which tended to make them difficult to replicate elsewhere or at a different time. But I will always be grateful for the generosity of spirit shown by Sheryl Crow, Sting, Bryan Adams, Jon Bon Jovi, Jeff Goldblum and many others—and the courage and conviction displayed by the charities we championed.

> 10. What were you like as a boy? What did you want to become and have you? What is your fondest childhood memory?

Possibly because it was the convention of the time amongst South Africa’s privileged that most of my childhood was spent at boarding schools. I detested it. I resented being raised “mass-produced” along with hundreds of other kids—several hundred miles away from home, and in affect being deprived of my family birthright. How I would have enjoyed family evenings sharing a meal, and conversation, with my father and siblings. This seldom happened except on infrequent school vacations. Hence I became stubbornly self-contained, independent—and yet I was compelled to conform to the rigid schedule of boarding school bell from sunrise to sunset—and that dull school uniform. As a result I never was an overt rebel, but I’m not surprised in my subtle effort to no longer conform by devoting most of my career to creative endeavors.

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I hope you enjoyed this interview. Read amazing new authors, rate and review, and don’t forget to reccomend their work to colleagues and friends!

Mark’s website
Mark’s fb
@MarkFine_author
The Zebra Affaire on Amazon: Kindle    Paperback

Anita Kovacevic

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And what do YOU have to say? – G. BARRERA – interview no.13

INTERVIEW TIME

Chicago’s own thriller author Glen Barrera is here to talk about his work as a writer, his novels and life, and some fun facts about him. From a thriller author you might expect very serious and studious answers, but you might also be surprised by his witty thoughts and his enthusiastic approach to life. Thank you, Glen, for doing this interview!

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1. First off, I have to say I always stop and stare at your title ‘The Assassin Who Couldn’t Dance?’ Where did the title come from?

It actually had a different title when I began. I changed it after the novel was finished because I wanted to give an inkling as to the assassin’s vulnerability. At one point in the story, Hector, the assassin, considers how different his life might be if his family had moved to the States sixteen years before. One of his what-ifs was – “…would he have a girlfriend now? Would he have learned how to dance?” It was so innocent, I couldn’t pass it up.

2. The story switches several settings. How difficult was it to plan the story? Do you spend a lot of time planning your novels, or do you jot down the plot first and fine-tune later?
  
There was a lot of pre-planning on this novel. I was taking a writing course at the time and my tutor, Canadian author Michael Mirolla, preferred a detailed outline. I spent a lot of time on it. It did prove valuable for the first half of the novel, but by the second half the story began to deviate from the original outline (a good thing). So, needing a new guide for the remaining chapters, rather than detailing once again I decided to work from a more flexible rough outline. I carried this “rough outline” pattern into my second novel, A Capable and Wide Revenge, and am using it for my third novel, Sweet Peach.

3. When did you decide to go for it and become published author?
 
I’ve written short stories and poetry in the past, but it wasn’t until after I divorced a few years ago that I found time to write a novel, something I had wanted to do since college. And as I was content doing just that – writing – it never occurred to me to publish anything until my second novel was near completion. I sent out a few queries to agents at first, at the same time reading-up on Indi publishing and social media marketing (a new world for me). In May, 2014, I joined Facebook and Twitter. In October I finally published with Book Baby. 

4. You write thrilling stories, packed with action, mystery and emotion. How does it feel when you are ‘in’ the story, when you dive into writing?

There is nothing like the high it brings. I’m ducking and weaving when the bullets are whizzing, scratching my head at the mysteries, and often shedding a tear with the characters during the more emotional parts. Many of the characters I’ve used are based on people, or composites of people, I’ve known (good and bad). I tend to get wrapped up in the lives I’ve given them.
 
5. Whose opinion and criticism do you trust the most?

I have two sources. The first is the Bolingbrook (SW ‘burbs of Chicago) Writers Group. I’ve been with them four years.
They are all talented writers and have gone though my novels adding comments/suggestions/critiques. They keep me in line. The second are my two brothers in Florida. They are avid readers in my genre and not afraid to verbally punch me if I mess up. 
   
6. What genre do you think is the most difficult one to write in?

Mystery. Although I love to read them, I’ve never been able to get a handle on the genre as a writer.

7. When you need to get out of the action-packed intensity of the stories, what do you do to relax or vent off?

I typically write in the evenings, before dinner. Sometimes, especially when wrapped up in an intense scene, I don’t get in the kitchen until 9 or later. Then I turn on the TV while preparing something to eat and watch comedy re-runs like Big Bang Theory. It takes my mind off writing.

8. What do you like to read when you read for pleasure?

I do try to keep up with the thriller genre, but I’ve been branching off into literary fiction, historical novels, and even romance. I also love non-fiction history. Last year I finally got around to Gibbon’s Decline and Fall of the Roman Empire.   

9. Would you like to see your novels turned into movies? Any director or actors in mind?

I don’t know if it can be done with all the varied scenes and characters I use. But if it could, I’d like Quentin Tarantino to give it a go. I like his style.  

10. What is your favourite scene from your books and why?

It’s the scene where Hector and Lucy are alone for the first time in a second story bedroom, waiting for an attack on the house. Hector’s awkwardness in dealing with the woman he’s come to love is something many guys, including me, have gone through at some point in our lives – his sweaty hand reaching out to hold hers – included.    

11. Would you like to add anything about your current work or send a message to the readers?

I’ve had some very nice reviews and comments regarding the Assassin. Each one is greatly appreciated. I had a lot of fun writing the book – so much so that the next book, A Capable and Wide Revenge (title from Shakespeare’s Othello), will feature the same main characters (yeah, Hector and Lucy will be back) along with some interesting new ones. I expect an April or May release.

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I hope you thriller-lovers check out Glen’s books! And don’t forget – read, rate and review!

Glen’s amazon site

Anita Kovacevic

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