A Month of Great Reads with @TraciSanders2014

31-DAYS-300x225Proud to be part of this event. Check out our page on Oct. 4 to see and hear more about past and future projects, but it is a month-long celebration of reading from some great writers, led by  . Check it out!

http://awordwithtraci.com/fall-into-great-reads/

RANDOM LUCIDITY kindle cover 2015Dave Adair is the author of Random Lucidity, proud recipient of the 2015 eLit Silver Medal for Literary Fiction, as well as a growing bunch of stellar reviews

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A Beautiful Drama in Stunning New Zealand

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The Quilt, Unravelled

Rochelle Carlton

BUY HERE

REVIEW

The Quilt is a wide-ranging and moving story of one family, their love, their losses and, most significantly, their resilience. It is a highly emotional read and Ms. Carlton does a masterful job of bringing the two main characters – Paul and Joanne – together throughout the story. Secondary characters consistently threatened to steal the story as they are written with such believability it must be that the author knows people like this in real life. The depth of the characters, the intertwined relationships, and the stunning New Zealand landscapes described throughout make this a wonderful choice for anyone looking to connect with a new and fresh group of characters.

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The author, searching for some solitude.

 A Chat with the Author

Dave: This was a moving story, filled with love and tragedy. How much of an emotional rollercoaster did it put you on when you wrote it?

Rochelle: I agree that some of the content of The Quilt, Unravelled is emotional and to a degree confronting.  It was consuming for me to write, as many of the issues have touched my own life.  However, that also made the rollercoaster close to my heart and therefore easy for me to relate to the story.  I personally do not enjoy a book that leaves me without some minor change, some thought and some feeling.  I hope that the emotional issues also touch on subjects that leave a small message.

D: Did this book change you in some way?

R: I think everything you do in life changes you to some degree.  But no I don’t think writing this book had a significant effect on who I am.  What it did do was alter my goals. I had a beginning and at some point I wanted to create an ending.  Navigating the 500 pages between, and being happy with the story, became a large part of my life for almost two years.

D: Which character was the easiest for you to develop, and why?

R: Most of the characters were easy to develop because most were similar, if only slightly, to people who have entered my life.  If I was to choose one it would be Joanne.  She developed easily because she evolved as a person throughout the story and her choices and circumstances were familiar to me.  Often, career and relationships and the restrictions imposed by our upbringing cause us conflict as adults.   Therefore her character was easy for me to develop and to relate to.

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A stunning sunset photo taken from Waiheke Island (home of The Quilt, Unravelled) towards Auckland City.

D: Did you worry that people close to you would recognize the similarities? And did that impact how you wrote her?

R: No. Joanne and some of the characters have very vague similarities to people who have entered my life.   Often similarities to a mixture of people.  I suspect most fictional characters are familiar in some way to the author and our experiences influence their creation and circumstances.  No actual person or actual event is individually depicted in The Quilt, Unravelled.

D: What is it that you hope the reader will remember from the story? Is there some sort of take-away that you want to reach the reader?

R: My first hope is that readers enjoy the story.  A work of fiction should be a form of escape from everyday reality.  However, if there was a “take-away” from  The Quilt, Unravelled it would be that youth is no guarantee of immorality, friendship and family are important to all humans and our upbringing doesn’t necessarily limit everything we can be as adults.

D: Did you discover anything surprising about yourself as you wrote it?

R: No, only that the twenty-four hours of a day were not enough.

D: Will we hear from these characters again, or you going in a new direction for the next book?

R: The story and the characters in The Quilt, Unravelled is complete.  The epilogue allowed the reader to finish the novel knowing what had happened, and where their lives were heading.  The new novel (which will be released in the next few months) has a different set of characters, a different location and is more a romantic suspense.

D: Has the next novel been easier or harder to write? What are your expectations for reader response?

R: The Quilt, Unravelled has many threads, different life stories and different generations that come together to form the story.  Therefore, it was complicated to write, especially on the final edit when I altered a little of the sequence.  The next novel is primarily about two main characters.  Again, they are quite different geographically and socially.  At this stage it is probably a less involved story to write, however it is also far from your typical straight forward boy/girl romance and is keeping me alert during the process!

I have no expectation as far as reader response is concerned.  I obviously hope it will be well received but to predict this is impossible.

RL NEw BenchDave Adair is the author of Random Lucidity, proud recipient of a growing bunch of consecutive stellar reviews.

*****On sale for .99 May 8 to June 8, 2015*****

The Down Side of A Well-Received Novel (so far)

imagesNGH7RZ5OOn the surface, the title of this blog is ridiculous.  Because when you write a novel – especially your first novel – the fear and anxiety of what others will think of it can be quite paralyzing. Unless you are one of those people who really doesn’t care what other people think (I am not one of those). All you want is for everyone to like it. Sales are an afterthought.

The highest high of this adventure was the first review received from someone I did not know. Euphoria! “Holy hell, someone with absolutely nothing invested into me or my book except a few dollars just told the world (if the world would read every Amazon review) that my book is awesome.” She liked it. She connected with it. She said things about it that I had only read about real authors .. “the characters were developed wonderfully” … “I want to read more from this author” … “I want to have his babies” (I added that last one for dramatic effect). Were you affected dramatically?

imagesVUJQ2F2CAnd then another review is written. And another. Friends stop you at parties and beer league hockey games to talk about the details of the story. They tell you what they liked. They tell you what parts confused them. They ask you why you wrote certain characters the way you wrote them, and ask your motivation for seemingly meaningless scenes. They make terrible recommendations for where certain characters could have gone.

I loved every minute of this, but then it hit me. Like a heavy mallet to the skull, it hit me: “Damn. I wish I would have put more thought into this!”

You see, the way I write is very simple. I write about what I feel like writing and then I write about something else. There is an outline only if you can call something an outline that doesn’t really predict the outcome of a project. At all.

When I get bored, I kill someone (a character!). Other times when I get bored, I take the story somewhere completely unexpected. The fun is trying to see if I can make sense of the twist without having myself (or my readers) roll their eyes.

This went on for months (because I can only write about an hour a day given I have a real life). And then after a while, I said: “Enough! I’m not spending any more time on this. It might suck. It might be the most embarrassing thing I have ever done to myself.” Which is a remarkable statement when you consider all the massively embarrassing things I do to myself on a regular basis.

untitled (7)And so I ask my ever-patient wife to look it over (and she then doesn’t talk to me for a few weeks, but we’ll save that gem of a story for a later post) and I put it out there for the world to see, utterly convinced that I will never write another book after this one bombs.

But then it doesn’t bomb. And people ask me very specific things about the story. Many of them, I had real answers for. Many of them, I had no answers for. (Like why I sometimes end consecutive sentences in my blog with prepositions).

People hated characters I expected them to love. The most hated character in the book is the one that most readers recognized as someone from their life (“yikes” for all of you!). Had I realized so many people would read it, I would have taken a few more months to tidy up the story … to consider the things that might confuse a reader. Instead, I mostly just smile knowingly and hope they think I’m some sort of genius; say things like, “I don’t know, what do you think the past relationship was between Reggie and Ronnie?” I wink and think to myself that I added Ronnie because I felt like writing a fun character one day. And so he was born into the tale, albeit as the most under-developed (yet beloved!) character.

I didn’t plan to have to say things like, “Well, I hadn’t really considered that.”

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I didn’t plan to have the cover redesigned because I hadn’t thought the first one through that much.

I didn’t plan to become obsessed with Amazon reviews and Twitter followers and Facebook likes and blog posts.

I didn’t expect to come up blank when people ask me what the book is about (still struggling with that one)

I didn’t expect to get ultra competitive about how high in the Amazon rankings I could get it (the record so far is #20 on the “Murder” list – “Murder” was not on the “Outline”).

I didn’t expect to discover a whole new world of wonderful indie authors who wanted me to read their books.

I didn’t expect my 80+ year old parents to be my best marketers, giving out business cards all along the east coast of the US to anyone they came in contact with … and I mean ANYONE.

And I certainly didn’t expect to have respected and ultra talented authors take the time to read the thing, and then tell everyone they are connected with how much they liked it.

The experience has been quite humbling. And more than a little bit pressure-filled. Because when I started this journey, the accomplishment was to finish it. The concern that filled me centered not just on its quality, but its reception by those closest to me. Would there be sniggering behind my back at every family function for the rest of my life?

If there is, it wont be because of the book.

Now, the challenge is: Can I do it again?

Stay tuned in late Summer for the answer to that burning (to me, at least) question.

RL NEw Bench

Dave Adair is the author of Random Lucidity, proud recipient of a growing bunch of consecutive stellar reviews (many of whom are strangers).

*****On sale for .99 May 8 to June 8, 2015*****

Rita Didn’t Like This Book Very Much

I enjoy hearing from readers. Good or bad comments are always welcome, so long as they are constructive.
What I didn’t expect when I opened my inbox today was to get a letter from the least likeable character from my novel, Random Lucidity. Rita Miserly played a vital role in the story. I needed a character everyone would hate. She was awesome at it.
Apparently, Rita wasn’t a big fan of her portrayal. Here is the email she sent.
WARNING: Graphic Language
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This is frighteningly similar to how I imagined Rita Miserly.

“Hey Dave-O: It’s me, Rita. I read your so-called “book” and you know what, you piece of shit? You made me look like a real jackass. I did everything I could for that little prick, Jerry, and the thanks I get is to be made fun of by you. I’m not some sort of sociopath, no matter how many lies you want to tell about me.

First of all, Reggie’s precious little girlfriend took the first swing at me. Oh wait, she’s not really his girlfriend anymore, huh? Sorry. Did I bring up a sore subject? He did a real nice job keeping  her happy. What was that guy’s name she banged? Oh, never mind. I wouldn’t want him to look like a fool in writing. You know, like you like to do to people like me.
o-WOMAN-IN-SHADOW-facebookI guess that makes you real smart. That makes you a big mister author-man or something. But you know what you really are? You’re a pussy who hides behind your keyboard and makes shit up about people who can’t defend themselves. I’m the victim here. You’re lucky if I don’t sue you.
I have been through enough in my life. Men abandon me. My thankless kids want nothing to do with me. And the state won’t give me any more money after that little game Jerry played on me. And after all I did for him.
So you listen to me you useless pile of shit, you will never know what it is like to be me. But I have lots of friends and lots of people that love me. I hope one day you experience the embarrassment of being victimized by a two-bit “writer” like you. So fuck-off, Dave-O. And tell Jerry I hope he dies.”
RL NEw BenchDave Adair is the author of Random Lucidity, proud recipient of 23 consecutive stellar reviews.

The Zebra Affaire: A Bold and Emotional Look at Interracial Dating in 1970s South Africa

ZEBRA AFFAIRE Book Cover 5.5x8.5 (72dpi) WebThe Zebra Affaire, by Mark Fine

Get it Now HERE

REVIEW

I am thrilled to have come across the Zebra Affaire by Mark Fine. First, it is a remarkable love story with pages turning easily and frequently. Mark’s writing style flows nicely and kept me engaged without going too deeply into the setting.

Mostly, the book educated me to the horrors and nearly unbelievable societal darkness of South Africa in the 1970s. In America, we tend to see news of racial and ethnic atrocities though a sanitized lens in short snippets on the television, or though brief newspaper headlines. Mark brings the realities to life by bringing us inside the minds and relationship s of some very real characters.

Kudos to Mark on a great job. Highly recommended.

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A CHAT WITH THE AUTHOR

Dave: How long ago was the seed for Zebra Affaire planted in your head and from where did the passion for the story come?

Mark: David, you have me searching further back than the actual moment of sitting down in front of a blank screen, and beginning the writing process. That incidentally was approximately four years ago. But in reflection it was after my father’s death in 2006. All those questions that would for now remain forever unanswered, because I failed to ask them when he was alive. My dad was a superb communicator–a wonderful man, reminiscent of the DGF patriarch character in the book, and he would have been happy to oblige, if only I had the common sense to ask. But life gets in the way of things; we get numbed by routine and obsessed with ambition, and tend to forget to consider the past. With that sudden void, my father’s death, I found myself interested for the sake of my two sons, to make an effort fill in the blanks of our family’s legend–even if much of it is personally fictional, but honestly reflective of those times.

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Mark (center) with his inspirations: Nico and Derek.

D: Tell me more about why this book is important to you and your sons?

M: In my experience, whether it’s a people or individuals, they are inclined to feel a sense of “rootlessness” if they lack knowledge of their history, culture, heritage and legacy. As an immigrant I’m keenly aware I’ve left behind this personal link to my past; for sake of argument let’s term it my birthright. I don’t want my sons to become similarly detached from their birthright. As my sons sole senior family member living on this continent I feel that the bridge to their past has become increasingly tenuous–further exacerbated by the passing of their grandfather. Now not being of a family meriting a vivid biography, being neither famous nor notorious, it occurred to me that I could lace the family legend throughout a far more compelling work of fiction. The game for my both my sons, and any reader of Zebra Affaire, is to try and divine what is fiction, what is grand history, and what is personal history…

D: How did you come to leave your birth land, and do you regret that, at times?

M: Lots of guys left the country to avoid compulsory military service, but I stayed and found myself in the Signal Corp of the South African Navy. Turned out to be a good thing for my future writing endeavors; along with learning Morse code I also had to learn how to touch-type to operate those cumbersome ticker tape-like Telex machines. Unlike most males of my generation I found myself to be a skilled typist, which served me well in business and as a future author.

When I did finally emigrate in the late 70s there was a prime motivator that decided everything. A powerful desire to not be on the wrong side of history. I felt that if I remained in South Africa I would be tacitly endorsing apartheid. After travelling overseas, and having my mind and conscience awakened, I had come to fully realize how abhorrent the system was. I will also admit to having my nerves rattled by an unexpected visit by two officers from the Bureau of State Security (BOSS). They accused me of sedition and threatened me with imprisonment; my “crime” was the marketing and sales of a Bob Marley reggae record which they deemed subversive. After that threatening visit I did begin to have my eye on the exit door.

My regrets have been centered on the fragmentation of my family. This unkind diaspora, an unfortunate by-product of emigration, where the family unit is broken down into disparate individuals–each who find separate safe havens in different parts of the world. Like a glass broken, it has been impossible to reassemble the broken shards into a single perfect entity.

D: To where did you move, and how has living in a freer society impacted the tone of A Zebra Affaire?

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Mark Fine, Author

M: Manhattan, New York. Not a good idea in retrospect. In 1979 New York was a murderous place and a mugger’s paradise. I had never known such fear, such constant threat of danger in my life. Africa was a picnic in comparison. Incidentally, my fears weren’t a syndrome of being a small town lad in the big city phobia; but based on my day-to-day experiences. Circumstances found me managing an independent record retail store near the Port Authority in New York. One brisk winter morning I came to open the steel shutter to the shop, and found a bloody knife and trail of blood lying in the alcove.

Soon thereafter I was “adopted” by a homeless chap at the store. His index finger was missing, he wore a balaclava on his head, and in lieu of winter coat he wore a plaid bath robe. Without prompting he volunteered is life story: released from the Navy brig after serving time for manslaughter and his beverage of choice was a mixer of Aqua Velva aftershave and Coca Cola.

Nothing in life had prepared me to befriend such a distressed soul. Rather than handouts, I asked him to sweep out the store–and then paid him for his services. This encouraged him to hang around. Then, one day I called him over and gave him a fresh $20 note, and asked him to buy us both coffee and donuts. Half an hour later he returned with tears in his eyes and coffee and donuts in a cardboard container. Methodically he counted out the exact change into my hands. Confused, I asked him what was wrong, why he was so emotional.  Leon, that was his name, said that since his release from jail no one would trust him, and the fact that I gave him the full $20 with the expectation he would return with both the coffee and the change, was the first demonstration of trust he had received in decades! His response taught me an important lesson; how small things that I may consider trivial may be a magnitude greater to someone else.

David, a guess this is a clumsy way for me to say that living in a freer society had no real bearing on my writing “The Zebra Affaire”. But living for the first time in a less protected cocoon, and interacting with folks on the fringes of my prior life’s experience, definitely had an impact on the in depth character-driven nature of my story. I sense you may have similar stories, judging by the richly rendered characters in your “Random Lucidity”

Yes, thinking a bit more about it, there is a profound way that living in a freer society has helped in my writing; the freedom from censorship.  I was able to research matters of South African history that were previously hidden from me. Also, in the South Africa I once lived in, “The Zebra Affaire” would certainly have been banned.

D: When you came to the U.S., did you find it surprising to learn that racism was alive and well here, as well? And have you seen progress in the U.S. in that regard since your arrival?

M: David, what did stun me when I landed in New York appeared to me far more complex than racism. In apartheid South Africa, that regime proscribed via rule of law where whites and blacks may live; the blacks were relegated to the worst areas, such as the notorious Soweto Township. Whites were privileged to inhabit the choice suburbs. However, if a white person chose to live in Soweto, that wouldn’t be permitted by the authorities. In other words the government imposed a compulsory separation of the races.

So imagine my surprise when I stumbled upon a kind of voluntary ghettoization New York!  There was Chinatown, Little Italy, Orthodox Jews had their patch of the city, the Irish were confined to a community of their own, and of course, there was Harlem. After the liberation struggle in South Africa, this form of self-segregation continues to bewilder me–and some in these politically correct overwrought times have even labeled this behaviour as “racism”. Personally I’ve come to regard this desire by cultural or racial groups to stick close to those similar as far more benign that racism–simply because there is no demonstrated will to harm those unlike themselves, but I do label this behaviour as “ethnically insular”.  Racist it is not, but it does sadden me. It puts lie to the notion of America being the great melting pot.

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RANDOM photo Lifted without permission or warning from Mark’s Facebook Page. Mark’s alter ego loves the writing of @writerjeangill. And Tom Jones, too! https://www.facebook.com/ZebraAffaire

D: As a nation of immigrants, we like to stay near to those we are like. As each generation dies out, though, the melting pot becomes larger in circumference. Last question. What do you feel is at the root cause of racism, regardless of nation, politics or geography?

M: As I suggested in my novel, I believe that racism and all the other ​bad habits that divide us are learned. In South Africa many of us whites were raised by our black nannies, and played alongside our nanny’s children, without any sense of prejudice. But the great separation began when we reached schooling age. It is within these institutions of knowledge a certain conditioning takes place, initially subtle but then history lessons of primitive savages slaughtering white “guests” at a feast celebrating a peace treaty, of white superiority in battle and in culture, and the continual drumbeat narrative that the Bantu has no other purpose than that of a common laborer. And as white students absorbed this message, they may look at each other seated at adjoining desks, and recognize the knowing looks reflected in the white faces of fellow students. There simply was no diversity of opinion. Once the seed’s planted, the social construct of the society at large continued to reinforce and perpetuate these incipient prejudices. That was the story in apartheid South Africa.

​But similar libel, spread elsewhere can be shared in song and dance around a community campfire, uttered from the pulpit, preached in a mosque, instilled by listening, watching and mirroring the behavior of family elders. This corrosive message threatens to accelerate in 2015 via the Internet. However it is the political hacks that I despise the most, in their fervor to gain or maintain power they are far too comfortable spewing racial divisiveness, regardless of the consequences.

RANDOM LUCIDITY_3Dave Adair is the author of Random Lucidity. “A remarkable narrative. A fascinating book with an unpredictable end.” – Portland Book Review.

I Loved This Book. Period.

Cover K FINAL  (1)No Damage, by Kathryn Hodgson

BUY NOW: Amazon US, Amazon UK

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REVIEW: I loved this book. My only regret is that it is not fiction. How one woman could endure the events Kathryn endured over such a short period of time is unfathomable. That she came out the other side with such positivity and such a strong eye to the future is downright inspirational.

Without spoiling the story, I can say that I laughed a lot and shed many tears on her behalf. I cringed at some of the decisions that were made, feeling as though I was one of her friends who wanted to scream, “No, don’t do that!” I found myself also taking great pride in Kathryn as I was able to watch her grow throughout the story into a confident and resilient woman.

Again, if she were a fictional character, I would have been rooting for her all the way. As a real human, it felt essential that she succeeded. And she did. Of course, none of this is possible without the strength of her writing. She avoided cliché’s and kept the story moving quickly with a flowing style that wasted no time, yet provided all the depth necessary to get hooked into her tale.

I cannot recommend this book highly enough.

Chat with the Author

DAVE: Memoirs can be embarrassing for the author, as well as their family and friends. Did anyone try to talk you out of writing this book?

KATHRYN: At the time I began writing No Damage I was living in South Africa and had recently moved there alone to pursue my passion for working in shark conservation. As such, I was a long way from my old home and I didn’t talk to anyone about No Damage during the early stages of creating the book. It was a new and daunting venture for me and I had my own fears and embarrassments to deal with, so kept the project close to my heart and rarely spoke of it. It was only during the later stages, when I had gained my own confidence and dealt with putting my memories on paper, that I approached family and friends and explained exactly what it was I was creating. I wanted to be sure that my loved ones could raise concerns if they felt the need to do so and yet none of them did. I was lucky to have the support of my family and friends. Some people even encouraged me to ‘go for it’ and ‘hurry up’ because they were already fans of my blog and wanted to read more of my life story. Their anticipation was wonderful when I had writer’s block!

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Kathryn Hodgson and a hard-earned glass of champagne.

D: Who was the first person you have your manuscript to read? What were you feeling when you handed it over to them?

K: The first person who read my manuscript was my wonderful other half Nick. He proof read it to correct grammatical and spelling errors and also because I needed someone to let me know how the pacing and tone of the book came across to the reader. I was incredibly nervous when he read it; partly because the subject matter involved him and some difficult times in my life but also because I was concerned he may dislike the book and say ‘Kathryn you really can’t write’. I am a typical writer that has fears like we all do! In truth, he really enjoyed it and I watched him laugh and cry his way through No Damage with a proud look on his face. I am still delighted he enjoys my writing, as he is an avid reader and not one for wasting him time with poorly written books. He is also thankfully very honest and not one for telling me my work is good when it isn’t. I really couldn’t ask for more.

D: You clearly decided to make major changes to your life, as told in the book. I’m curious, did the book represent sort of a line of demarcation for you? For instance, by putting the story on paper, did it force you to make changes you may not otherwise have made?

K: Rather than it forcing me to make those major changes in my life, it forced me to shift my perspective about what had already happened in my life previously. By the time I started writing No Damage I had moved to South Africa and so had taken the leap into the unknown with my life in a practical sense. The fascinating part for me was that the writing process allowed me to reflect on the difficult times and alter my perspective to a more empowered and inspired outlook. It gave me the opportunity to heal, to recognize my part in creating all that had come to pass and it inspired me to keep moving forwards towards my goals. It was such a positive process in spite of my fears that dragging up the past would be both painful and perhaps a little pointless!

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Just another day at the office for Kathryn and Nicholas.

D: That makes sense. So, the next most logical question (sarcasm alert): Why the passion for sharks? And please talk about your current world tour for shark conservation.

K: Well I have had a huge passion for sharks since I was a child and took my brother’s shark book to school for Show and Tell in Kindergarten. I have always been fascinated by their grace and beauty and I like to support the underdog!

They are magnificent animals and yet deeply misunderstood and misrepresented by the media, which is such a shame. People either love or are fearful of sharks and I enjoy the challenge of helping people to change their perceptions towards that of respect for these animals rather than misplaced fear.

Many shark and ray species are now endangered thanks to us overfishing them for the shark fin soup trade (and other activities) and I am currently on a 10 month World Tour for Sharks. My partner and I set up a marine conservation cause called Friends for Sharks and we are traveling the globe providing shark conservation events for adults and children in each country we visit. Our lectures and shark art activities aim to inspire people to reconnect with the oceans and learn about why sharks are so vital for our oceans’ health and the fish stocks you and I rely upon.

We focus on positivity, storytelling and empowering people to make small changes to their lifestyle that will be of benefit to the oceans. There is too much bad news in the world and we aim to change that by focusing on what we CAN do rather than what has already been lost. We are also raising money for two charities throughout our tour; The Shark Trust and Project AWARE.

Our cause link is www.friendsforsharks.com and also www.facebook.com/friendsforsharks

D: Will we be seeing another book from you?

K: Absolutely! This is just the beginning of the writing journey for me and I am determined to write more in the years to come. It is a huge passion of mine and a creative outlet that I want to develop and refine. At the moment I am focusing on building my author blog (with podcasts on writing and other useful information) at www.kathrynhodgsonauthor.com and I will be writing an adventure travel book about the coming year of adventures with sharks. I am also about to start working on my first novel, so definitely watch this space and follow my blog for the latest news and events.

RANDOM LUCIDITY_3Dave Adair is the author of Random Lucidity. “A remarkable narrative. A fascinating book with an unpredictable end.” Portland Book Review.

The Japanese Mafia, an American GI and a dead girl. How can you not read this book?

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The Gangster’s Son, by Joseph Mark Brewer

Buy now Here

REVIEW: This was a classic detective novel set in Tokyo, with the larger-than-life Shig Sato taking control of a high-profile murder investigation. Is the murderer the American GI boyfriend, the mafia, or some other random act of cruelty? This story has a handful of storylines that Joe Brewer meshes together seamlessly. His writing is tremendous and the book is one of those rare stories that flows perfectly and never tries to out think itself.

I give a very high recommendation to The Gangster’s Son.

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A CHAT WITH THE AUTHOR

DAVE: You clearly have a passion for detective stories. Where did that come from?

JOE: My fascination with detective novels began when I was quite young and my sister give me a copy of The Hound of the Baskervilles. I had to know everything about Sherlock Holmes, and that led to a lifelong interest. It’s interesting you mentioned TV shows. I watched as many as I could over the years and there are some classics. Columbo comes to mind. Interesting characters in interesting situations.

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Amazing the things we see as children that impact what we do as adults. Peter Falk as the one and only Columbo.

D: Colombo was a great show. I remember watching it all the time, as well. So was Peter Falk better in Columbo or The Princess Bride?

J: Ooh, that’s a tough one. I’d have to go with Colombo. I was thinking of some of the new mysteries on TV, and Castle comes to mind. And I saw a review for “American Crime.” I can’t wait to watch it.

D: What about your interest in Japan and the emphasis on its underworld? You lived there for some period of time?

J: While in the Navy I was stationed in Japan for three years, then after college I returned a few years later and stayed for several years. I came to like the art and literature and the films. I have always been interested in crime and criminals, gangs and such. I found the yakuza fascinating because at first it seems they are counter-cultural, but in their own way, they are quite traditional. As I lived there I began to realize that beneath the veneer of societal demands, people are the same the world over. Even the gangsters.

D: Your book is full of characters showing respect for one another. Do you think that type of character development would work if the story was set in LA or New York?

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Joseph Mark Brewer, Author.

J: No. One of the reasons I wanted to use Japan as a setting is to combine the raw crime elements and that society’s behavioral norms.

D: I also have a background in journalism. Did you find it difficult to develop characters when your instinct is to tell the story in 1500 words?

J: Yes. Once I learned the craft of newspaper journalism – write tight, get it right, stick to the narrative, avoid padding – one of the biggest leaps to writing a novel was going into it for the long haul. It took quite a long time to think in terms characters and setting and narrative for anything as long as 20,000 words, never mind 80,000.

D: It’s definitely a whole new skill set. How much time are you spending writing the follow-up novel? Any guess on when it will be done?

J: I’m wrapping up final edits on Shig Sato Book 2 “The Thief’s Mistake” for release in the next few weeks. And I’m half-finished writing Book 3, “The Traitor’s Alibi.” I spend 2 – 4 hours a day writing and editing, and various amounts of time at what author Patrick O’Bryan calls “pondering,” This is all a learning process, and one of the key things I learned is taking a break from a project for a week can easily turn into six months. So I do a bit of something almost every day, keep it in front of me, and do the work.

D: Is writing novels simply a passion, or is it something you would like to do for a living?

J: I work full-time at a newspaper. I’ve been working as a journalist for 35 years, in the military and in private enterprise. I’ve worked at publications in Canada, Japan and the U.S., so it’s been a great way to see the world and earn a living. But when the day comes that I can replace my journalism income with my fiction income, I’ll probably make the switch.

D: How long has the Shig Sato story been living in your head? And what was the impetus that got you to bring it to life?

J: Shig is a character from an unpublished novel about my expatriate experiences in Japan. That novel began life as a notion to write about some of the ex-G.I.s I met who settled there, and their memories of their life as young men in the postwar years. That was in the late 1980s. Some of the characters and plots that populate that novel will appear in the Shig Sato series (about ten volumes planned so far), primarily concerning the wealthy industrialist Kazuo Takahashi and his daughter. The impetus? The Shig Sato series is an attempt at writing several ideas I’ve had about in the form of a mystery series. I believe fiction offers infinite room for creativity; mysteries can be told in many ways. At least, that’s my hope!

MyCourtyard (1)

The view from Joe’s door that tempts him to do something other than write 2-4 hours per day.

D: Interesting. But why now? Why not in, say, 1992? What drove you to write 2-4 hours a day, every day?

J: Life got in the way. 1992: Recently married, new baby, move to another country, work — in those years (as now) I wrote in journals every day, did some freelancing, wrote short fiction sketches and short stories, but was never happy with anything. I was finding my voice, and eventually, by the late 90s, was submitting stories and getting rejected, rightfully so. I wrote the first draft of my ‘Japan Novel’ in 1999 and made the submissions rounds for two years: nothing. Again, rightfully so. Wrote other projects, some still in the works.

One of the things I do when I pick up a book is look at the copyright year. In the late 1990s, I realized I would never have a book with a copyright date beginning with a 19. This was a wake-up for me. I was in my early 40s and began to feel time slipping away. I began to take my fiction writing interests more seriously, with all the discipline that goes with it. I’ve never been at a loss for story ideas. For me it came down to time management. And that comes down to discipline. So I’ve been working on that for the past 15 years. Technology and publishing are now at a point where, for a writer, there are avenues to publication other than the Big 5. So I decided to go indie with the mystery once it evolved into something I could see doing for many volumes.

D: Random question: If you have to watch a comedy movie, which actor or actress are you going to seek out?

J: Adam Sandler, or some other SNL alum who has a movie. Why? To see what they’re up to.

RANDOM LUCIDITY_3Dave Adair is the author of Random Lucidity. “A remarkable narrative. A fascinating book with an unpredictable end.” – Portland Book Review.