Last week I attended ThrillerFest IX in New York City. This annual event is held by the terrific organization International Thriller Writers, which is celebrating its 10th anniversary this year. While at ThrillerFest IX, I had the opportunity to attend FanFest, a portion of the week-long event where fans get to meet and spend time with a multitude of authors over cocktails. Picture it: There’s a large room with Lee Child, Michael Connelly, David Morrell, and countless others at tables waiting to sign your book, take photos with you and chat. It was a great way to cap off my week at ThrillerFest IX. Below are several photos of myself and authors whom I spent time with during the conference or at FanFest.
Last week I saw and met Night Ranger. I also saw and met Foreigner and Don Felder, in addition to seeing Styx perform. How could I possibly top this? Well, this week I’m going to New York City to spend time with and learn from some of the greatest writers in the world at ThrillerFest IX.
Summer is almost upon us and it’s one of my favorite seasons. What’s not to love? If you’re a music fan, there are a million concerts to go to. If you’re a foodie, you can eat outdoors at a myriad of restaurants. And, of course, if you’re a book lover there are numerous titles you can read in bed, on the beach or at the airport. To help you decide which books are worth reading, I’m going to share with you a few titles that I’m either currently reading or will be reading very soon.
A few days ago I received a copy of The Collector of Dying Breaths by the immensely talented M.J. Rose, and I look forward to reading it soon. So far, this book has received excellent reviews on Amazon and Goodreads with people calling it “a richly detailed and imaginative novel” and “as beautifully evocative as previous entries in the [Reincarnationist] series.”
2013 was my first full year of blogging, and it was a great one. I wrote 174 posts and exceeded 20,000 views, reaching people in 118 countries. I also had the honor and privilege of interviewing some of my favorite authors, actors and musicians, including:
- Lisa Scottoline
- Andrew Gross
- Melissa Manchester
- Michael Des Barres
- Douglas Preston
- Jon Land
- M.J. Rose
- Steven James
- Taylor Stevens
- Donald Bain
- Thomas B. Sawyer
- Dick Hill
And 2014 is shaping up to be an even bigger year with interviews already scheduled with 2014 Rock & Roll Hall of Fame Inductee John Oates and bestselling author Stuart Woods.
Thanks to all of you who regularly read my posts, as well as those who take the time to comment. Speaking of which, below are my top commenters’ great blogs. Make sure to check them out:
2013 was my best year yet, both personally and professionally, and I plan on making 2014 even more special.
Happy New Year!
I recently read my first book by M.J. Rose, Seduction, and its compelling, suspenseful narrative kept me turning pages from start to finish. Rose’s ability to effortlessly switch between two storylines, filled with rich dialogue and palpable characters, kept me coming back for more. I was completely invested in Jac L’Etoile’s story arch, and I love how it intersected with Victor Hugo’s. Seduction was bursting with historical detail that kept me engrossed in the characters’ world, and the conclusion left me completely satisfied. If you’re trying to decide what to read next, I highly recommend you check out Seduction.
Below is the book’s synopsis, and make sure to read my interview with M.J. Rose to learn more about the author.
A gothic tale about Victor Hugo’s long-buried secrets and the power of a love that never dies . . . In 1843, novelist Victor Hugo’s beloved nineteen-year-old daughter drowned. Ten years later, still grieving, Hugo initiated hundreds of séances from his home on the Isle of Jersey in order to reestablish contact with her. In the process, he claimed to have communed with Plato, Galileo, Shakespeare, Dante, Jesus—and even the devil himself. Hugo’s transcriptions of these conversations have all been published.
Or so it has been believed . . .
Recovering from a great loss, mythologist Jac L’Etoile thinks that throwing herself into work will distract her from her grief. In the hopes of uncovering a secret about the island’s mysterious Celtic roots, she arrives on Jersey and is greeted by ghostly Neolithic monuments, medieval castles and hidden caves. But the man who has invited her there, a troubled soul named Theo Gaspard, hopes she’ll help him discover something quite different— transcripts of Hugo’s lost conversations with someone he called the Shadow of the Sepulcher. Central to his heritage, these are the papers his grandfather died trying to find. Neither Jac nor Theo anticipate that the mystery surrounding Victor Hugo will threaten their sanity and put their very lives at stake.
Seduction is a historically evocative and atmospheric tale of suspense with a spellbinding ghost story at its heart, written by one of America’s most gifted and imaginative novelists. Awakening a mystery that spans centuries, this multilayered gothic tale brings a time, a place and a cast of desperate characters brilliantly to life.
M.J. Rose is an international bestselling author of 13 novels and a founding member and board member of International Thriller Writers (ITW). I had the pleasure of meeting her at ITW’s ThrillerFest this summer. Her latest novel is Seduction, which I’ll be reviewing soon, and below is my interview with the author. Enjoy!
When did you first discover your ability to write, and did you always aspire to be an author?
I wanted to be an artist for as long as I can remember. I always loved to read though. I think wanting to be a writer just snuck up on me. I don’t actually remember when I knew. As for the first part of your questions – I’m still trying to find my ability to write … I’m more comfortable coming up with ideas than actually writing.
How did you get into advertising, and how has it influenced your career as a writer?
My grandfather was in advertising and at my Dad’s company he was the one who worked with the ad agency. It was always in my blood. Then in college I started taking graphic design classes – which I loved as much as painting – and was much better at. My first job was at a very small ad agency where I wrote the copy and did the design, and I realized after a year I liked the writing better.
You wrote the first self-published book to be picked up by a New York publishing house, Lip Service. What was this process like, and how did you feel when a traditional publisher wanted the book?
I didn’t set out to do that. I got tired of my agent telling me that publishers loved my book but couldn’t figure out how to market it. So I told her I’d put it online and market it (since I was in advertising) and once I had a campaign that worked she could show the publishers how I did it. It was during that effort that The Doubleday Bookclub and Literary Guild discovered Lip Service on line and wrote me and offered to publish it as one of their featured alternates. That was about 6 months after I’d started my experiment. I was convinced it was a friend playing a joke on me.
Do you write every day? If so, how do you avoid distractions and do you set goals for yourself when it comes to the number of words or pages?
At different times in the course of writing a novel I work different ways. The first three to four months of a book, when I’m formulating and researching and planning, I don’t write at all except to take notes. I walk around a lot thinking and calling a few great friends with panicked phone calls about how this idea is most boring book in the world.
Once I start writing the first draft, I write 1,500-2,500 words a day, 5 or 6 days a week, first thing in the morning at 6:30. When I start on the second draft I’m happy – I love editing. I keep up that same pace – working 5-6 days a week but in less of white heat.
As was discussed at length at ThrillerFest, some authors are plotters while others are pantsers. Do you draft an outline before sitting down to write a novel or do you have a rough idea of what you want to say and let the story unfold one page at a time?
I do a bit of both. I can’t over-plot or I’d be too bored to ever write the story but I do a lot of research and need to know quite a lot about the characters and have a list of the top 10 to 15 main scenes and the end before I start.
You wrote a book called What To Do Before Your Book Launch with Randy Susan Meyers that provides writers with information on how to be successful, and your company, AuthorBuzz helps authors market their books. What was the inspiration for this book and service?
When I first got published in 1999, it was a very different world. Authors wrote and publishers published. And a lot of opportunity was falling through the cracks. Together with a wonderful author and one of my closest friends, Douglas Clegg, I wrote a book and started teaching classes called Buzz Your Book. In 2005, that lead to my opening the first marketing firm expressly to help authors (but we work with publishers too). And then last year, Randy and I both realized we’d each written a lot of blog posts that would make an interesting workbook and put What To Do Before Your Book Launch together.
Have you had any authors serve as mentors during your career as a writer?
I was in advertising during the years I was writing my first few books and didn’t know any other authors and so never had a mentor. But I have been very lucky to have a group of amazing friends who are amazing writers and I have learned so much about the craft of writing and story telling from them.
I was always in awe of Hugo and yes, I found his work inspiring but on a grand scale I don’t think I’m at all capable of. As for Seduction I came up with the idea for the book without quite realizing that I’d have to write in his voice. And when it came time to start, I panicked and almost bailed. What hubris! I gave up three times. It was when my agent suggested I read his letters to his friends and family that I might get past the genius thing. Sure enough the letters weren’t as intimidating as his fiction and I started thinking I might pull it off. But it wasn’t until I started writing with a fountain pen and on paper – the way Hugo wrote – that I finally was able to begin. I wrote the whole book – 120,000 words – by hand.
Seduction features two storylines and two time periods. How do you go about keeping the reader emotionally invested in both storylines while advancing the plot at the same time?
As a reader I get bored easily – so I try to keep myself emotionally invested. I figure if I can keep myself excited and I know the story, I might have a shot with the readers.
Some authors dread research while other relish it. When it’s necessary, how do you go about conducting research and do you enjoy it?
I love it. So much so that sometimes I think that I write as an excuse to do the research. In fact I have to force myself to stop.
Do you have any exciting new projects you’re working on?
Yes, I’m starting a new book Sept 1 and it’s a bit different and a big challenge.
Yesterday was the third day of ThrillerFest, and last night was FanFest – a time for fans to spend time with the authors they love, get books autographed and have drinks. After FanFest, I had the honor of having dinner with one of my favorite authors, Andrew Gross. Below are photos from both events.