Archive for October, 2011

Author Interview: Lisa Gardner on Love You More

Saturday, October 29th, 2011

Lisa Gardner, the New York Times bestselling suspense author of D.D.Warren Detective series, talks about her latest bestselling suspense novel of the series, Love You More in her interview with us.

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When did you begin your writing and who has been the biggest inspiration behind your writing?

I started my first novel when I was six. Needless to say, it wasn’t very good. But at eighteen I tried again, and ended up producing my first suspense novel involving a prostitute who witnesses a murder, and the handsome detective who must now keep her safe. I published it when I was twenty, and have been writing thrillers ever since.

What is your personal opinion on how far one can go to save his/ her beloved?

I think the biggest life change that has impacted me as a writer has been motherhood. For one thing, until you’re a parent, you have no idea how many things there are to fear! Suddenly, here is this tiny life that is vulnerable and needy in every way. How can you not go to the ends of the earth to care for and nurture your child?

I think love is inspiring. It brings out the best in us, makes us discover skills and determination we never knew we had. Certainly, motherly love is a force to be reckoned with in Love You More.

Tell us the basic concept of Love you More.

A state police officer has confessed to killing her own husband. Their six-year old daughter, however, is missing. Enter Detective D.D. Warren, who must both investigate the murder as well as race-against-the-clock to rescue a missing child. It’s a very intense novel, but it’s also cathartic. It’s really about how far you would go to save the one you love.

How do you develop your characters to contribute a major part in the plot development?

I only wish I had a master plan for developing my characters. When I start a novel, I purposefully don’t define my characters. I wait and see how they develop. Interestingly enough, at the beginning of my career I was a big planner—outlined character development, plot, everything—and I think those novels aren’t nearly as tight as my more recent novels which had no plan at all. My characters now are both good and bad, which makes the plots twists more logical, believable and exciting. At least I hope so!

How do you portray the character of D.D.Warren as one of the most convincing protagonist?

As a hard-working detective, as well as a person, D.D. Warren has evolved over the course of the series in interesting and compelling ways. She’s always been aggressive, determined and neurotic. Now, real life has caught up with her. Heaven help her, she fell in love. And, in the opening pages of Love You More, she’s facing another major life change—pregnancy. Can a successful career cop have a happy home life? This is what D.D. wonders, fears, desires. She’s becoming a fully-evolved human being and it’s good for her.

Does D.D.Warren identify with the inner turmoil of Tessa Leoni on a personal level?

Definitely one of the themes of Love You More is motherhood. Boston Detective D.D. Warren, who’s just discovered she’s pregnant, must investigate a fellow police officer accused of doing something terrible to her missing six-year old daughter. It forces D.D. to wonder about motherhood, love, the demands of the job. But Tessa, all along, continues to challenge D.D. as well. Would a mother really harm her own child? Or would she go to the ends of the earth to save her? That’s the central question in Love You More.

Who do you think is stronger- D.D.Warren or Tessa Leoni?

I think part of the suspense in Love You More is that they are both strong in their own way, leading to a battle of wits. Tessa is more street smart, not to mention desperate. But D.D. brings strategy and clear-eyed observations to the investigation. The book is off and running from there.

The “method of alternating chapters” weaves both stories of love and mystery in an amazing way- how far do you agree?

Love You More is my first experience writing the “unreliable narrator” novel. Basically the story, in alternating chapters, is told by two separate characters. One, my main character D.D. Warren who is investigating the case. The second, being Tessa Leoni, a state police officer who admits she killed her husband, but claims it was in self-defense. That’s all pretty straight forward. Except, where is Tessa’s six-year old daughter? From the very beginning, you know Tessa isn’t telling you everything. It’s the depths of her secrets combined with the poignancy of her memories of her husband that I hope keeps you riveted, page by page, chapter by chapter.

How do you sustain the suspense from the first page to the last one?

Research is a major influence for me. For Love You More, I interviewed state police officers, as well as went on patrol with a female officer. Understanding the day to day dynamics of the job helped me come up with many of the complications driving the suspense. I also spent quality time at the Body Farm in Knoxville, Tennessee, learning about cadaver recovery and establishing time of death of skeletal remains. Working with the forensic anthropologist there, I came up with the search scene in the woods, which I think is one of the most tense and shocking moments of the novel. As they say, real life is stranger than fiction, so I look to bring a lot of real life to my thrillers.

Who has been your favorite mystery author? And which are your favorite books?

I grew up reading Erle Stanley Gardner, of Perry Mason fame. I also love Stephen King and John Saul. Most recently, I follow Karin Slaughter, Tess Gerritsen and Lee Child. Basically, I love anything that involves a dark and stormy night, a woman in distress, and a really great puzzle. Fortunately, that gives me lots of great books to read.

What message do you have for your readers?

Thank you for reading! Writing novels is my most favorite job in the world, and I feel so fortunate to have so many people out there who love to read the books almost as much as I love to write them. And D.D. has so many more great adventures ahead. Next, she must investigate a vigilante killer who is murdering sex offenders in the city of Boston. Complicating matters—the appearance of a girl claiming she will be murdered in four days and she’d like D.D. to handle her case. Can D.D. stop a murder in time? It will be fun to find out!

Don’t Tie That Bow

Thursday, October 27th, 2011

Author: Christine Johnson

My most recently published novel, NOCTURNE, was not only the sequel to CLAIRE DE LUNE, it was also the end of the series. (There’s a fancy word for this: it’s called a duology, which is just like a trilogy only with one less book.) Writing the end of something – whether it’s a standalone novel or a ten book series – is always a tricky proposition.

 If the plot is good, and well-knit, and pleasingly complex, there are necessarily threads to be tied up. And I don’t mean the main climax that the novel’s driving towards. That’s obvious. That’s the *easy* part. But once the ship blows up and the characters save one another and there’s kissing in front of the raging inferno (or . . . you know . . . whatever your book’s climax is) – that’s when you have to figure out what to do with all those subplot threads.

I’m not a particular fan of having *everything* in a book tied up in a neat bow. When that’s how a story ends, I find that after I finish reading it, the story goes right out of my head. I don’t think of it again. The characters don’t stay with me. Conversely, when a book is too open ended, readers are often left feeling unsatisfied. It’s a hard balance to strike, and of course it’s important to remember that you can’t please all of the people all of the time.

For me, I find books most successful if they leave a few “soft” points at the end. Did the protagonist have a fight with her best friend? Then perhaps they make up but it seems shaky. Did all of the ship exploding and kissing and whatnot make it impossible for the main character to continue working at their day job? Maybe we don’t see that completely resolved . . . perhaps the book ends with a help wanted add Little hints – little openings that insinuate that a character’s life continues past the last page help make the end of a story satisfying while ensuring that the sense of story lingers past the book’s final lines.

Lots of people are amazing at this. Particularly, when I’m working on the endings to my own novels (which tend toward too open ended, rather than too neatly wrapped up,) I look at Meg Rosoff, Sarah Rees Brennan, and Kate Milford. All three of them end books/series remarkably well.

Again, though, this is something where everyone has a different opinion. I’m always interested to hear from readers and writers – how do you like the books/series you read to end: Nice and neat or with lots of space for imagining? If you write, do you like to write the same sort of endings you like to read?

Book Review: The Book Thief by Markus Zusak

Tuesday, October 25th, 2011

Author: Sherry Helms

“…I’m always finding humans at their best and worst. I see their ugly and their beauty, and I wonder how the same thing can be both.”-  muses Death, the narrator in The Book Thief.

Markus Zusak, the bestselling author of children’s books, amazes his fans and readers with his debut adult novel The Book Thief. He has been triumphantly successful through this extraordinary elegant fiction, a very rare kind of book in the modern history of fiction- writing. Though the book is set in the background of Nazi regime, it is relevant to the whole world where book burnings, treachery and theft have been very frequent happenings. The book is a must- read for all to learn the “importance of words” in our lives, societies and cultures.

“Death” is the narrator of the story of nine-year old Liesel who steals many books during the carnage of the Second World War. Liesel along with her fellow inhabitants find their lives getting changed through the printed words on the pages of the books and the horrendous happenings around them. Though the narrator of the book is grim “Death”, it reaffirms life in a new sense emphasizing the influence of words on our souls. Though the book is set in the era of Second World War in Germany, it still holds its ground firmly as a contemporary book in this 21st century, a must- read for any civilized society.

The narrator “Death” moves your emotions profoundly and stirs all the images of Nazi Germany, friendship and loss inside your soul in the most vivid, wonderful and tragic way. Zusak’s extraordinary command over language brings Liesel and her world to life and you can also identify with Liesel’s world on a personal level. You can learn a lesson of your life from this little young girl how to stand strong to face the human tragedy and world- ruining hatreds. This is entirely a new and unique plot for a novel, bound to steal your heart, change your mind, move your soul and heal your wounds.

Read it must to realize the ability of books to feed your soul. The Book Thief will be an unforgettable read for you. 

Popular Halloween Books: Time for Some Funny, Spooky Reads

Monday, October 24th, 2011

Author: Sherry Helms

What are the best gifts you can have this Halloween for your kids, friends and family? Apart from gifting costumes and toys and throwing parties for celebrations there is always something that would suit best as gifts on any occasion. And those are called books- as this is time for some really scary, spooky as well as fun and entertaining reads.

Observe this Halloween with best scary stories reading them loud to your kids. Here is a list of some special books for all Halloween observers:

Something Wicked This Way Comes: To begin with the Halloween Week in the best way, there is no better scary book for you than this one by Ray Bradbury. It’s a true literary classic that would give you sleepless nights in this season of horror. It is a wonderful novel about the battle between good and evil, presented by some charming characters with tremendous feeling of horror and suspense. Feel the chill of the Halloween night to the core of your heart.

The Graveyard Book: Neil Gaiman keeps you engaged this Halloween with his The Graveyard Book, a novel on life and death and significance of family. It’s a delightful mixing of horror and fantasy that would simply add to your loads of fun on this Halloween week. This book is highly recommended for those who want to relive their best childhood read- The Jungle Book.

The Legend of Sleepy Hollow: What is Halloween without the ‘Headless Horseman’ riding through the spooky woods? Washington Irving simply leaves you surprised with this simple and beautiful piece of writing. It does not shiver up your spine and quake you up in fear, rather it tells a ghost story related to everyday people in everyday situations. On the coming Halloween just keep wondering whether the story of the ‘Headless Horseman’ is real or not.

The Little Old Lady Who Was Not Afraid of Anything: The little old lady who never dared anything in her whole life suddenly gets scared by the spooky sounds on a Halloween Night. This is a funny Halloween story perfect for gifting your toddler on this festive season. Every kid must read it on Halloween day.

Big Pumpkin: Another rollicking story for children, to be read on the Halloween night. Every necessary frightening element for a perfect Halloween night is present here to get the hold of the big pumpkin- witch, vampire, ghost, bat and also a mummy. It is a not so scary big fun read. The incredible illustrations make the book a true Halloween treat for all young kids.

Ghosts in the House: This is a story of a little witch living in a haunted house knowing the tricks of handling the ghosts. With brilliant illustrations, this is a sweet, scary and amazing Halloween story highly recommended for the youngest trick or treaters.

The Halloween Tree: Meet the mysterious Mr. Moundshroud who along with the eight boys takes you on a journey back through the centuries to discover the real meaning of Halloween. The black and white illustrations will send you shivers of terror and delight on the dark Halloween night. You just can’t miss this breathtaking Bradbury book on the occasion of Halloween.

Wish you many more happy readings on the eve of Halloween at http://www.printsasia.com/books/halloween.

Book Review: A Stolen Life by Jaycee Dugard

Friday, October 21st, 2011

Author: Sherry Helms

When was the last time you cried your heart out while reading a book? Jaycee Dugards’s haunting memoir A Stolen Life, a tale of survival and pain compels you to cry out loud with the agonies of the protagonist.

It is a true story of the author’s own life, the tale of her 18 year long imprisonment, the mental and physical traumas she went through during this long period and the strategies of her survival with full dignity. This is a story full of hope and courage leading you towards a brighter future.

What happens when suddenly one day someone’s life gets completely changed from a normal human’s life to a prisoner’s one? A prisoner for eighteen years, an object for someone to use and abuse, forced to forget her own name, forced to become a mother and then a sister- this was the horrible situation of Jaycee’s life during her long eighteen years captivity.

Still she never did give up, she never considered herself as a poor victim, and she learnt how to survive with dignity in the most hostile situation. And finally on August 26, 2009 she got her name back- Jaycee Lee Dugard- the absolute survivor in this insane, cruel human world. This is the story of Jaycee, in her own words, in her own style, just as she remembers it in her own way.

The book is beautifully written about missing her mother the most, her growing dependence on her kidnapper, her getting isolated from the outer world. This is a heartwarming tale where you will have happy tears on your eyes with its happy and hopeful ending. You will simply get amazed with the positive energy she has carried within her in all the hard times.

A Stolen Life- the ultimate courageous book inspiring you to regain your voice and power.  Learn to grow a desperate willpower and determination to snatch your freedom. It is highly worth reading. 

Author Interview: Steve Berry on The Templar Legacy

Wednesday, October 19th, 2011

Steve Berry, the New York Times bestselling thriller author of the Cotton Malone series, talks about his brilliant piece of literature The Templar Legacy in his interview with us, Printsasia.com.

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What inspired you the most on writing the intensely suspenseful thriller- The Templar Legacy?

I’ve always been fascinated by the Templars, and writing this book gave me the chance to study the Order in detail. It was important that they be presented as they were, not some Hollywood stereotype, though a few liberties had to be taken to make sure the story remained a thriller. Their 686 Rules, though, are fascinating. Obedience was paramount.

Contrary to Sir Walter Scott and Ivanhoe, they were forbidden from participating in tournaments; they spoke sparingly without laughter; they did not bathe; they slept with the lights on and dressed; and they were not allowed to gamble or hunt, play games, or grow their hair, though their beards could be unkempt. By papal order the knights were allowed to wear a white mantle with a red cross, while the remainder of the Order wore differing colored mantles.

Within The Templar Legacy there’s an initiation ceremony which I tried to re-create accurately. That was quite an elaborate event. The hierarchy was simple: The master was in absolute charge, aided by seneschals, who commanded the knights (all of noble heritage) and the sergeants (warriors of non-noble background). Chaplains were the clerics and the rest of the Order was comprised of artisans, farmers, craftsmen, and administrators. Tens of thousands joined. Tens of thousands died fighting. Quite an organization. And the term ‘warrior-monks’— what a marvelous contradiction.

How do you want to describe the influence of “Dan Brown as a mentor” on your writing skills?

I changed the way I plotted novels after reading The DaVinci Code.  If you read The Amber Room, The Romanov Prophecy, and The Third Secret, then read The Templar Legacy or any of the books that came after, the reader will notice a difference in how the books were plotted.

Dan is a master of fast pace.  His cliffhanging at the end of chapters and sections is likewise marvelous.  I learned a lot from The DaVinci Code.  Most important, though, is that myself and a lot of other writers would not even be here but for what Dan and Doubleday did in re-igniting the genre and bringing the international suspense thriller back to life.  That’s why, to this day, when I pass a copy of DaVinci I stop and bow.    

How did you develop the character of “Cotton Malone” in a way to make it the most believable secular character?

He was born in Copenhagen. I was sitting at a café in Højbro Plads, a popular Danish square, when he came to me. I love that city and that square, so I decided Cotton would own a bookshop right there. I wanted a character with government ties and a background that made him a formidable opponent, but I also wanted him to be a person possessed of freedom.

Since I personally love rare books, it was natural that Cotton would too, so he became a Justice Department operative turned bookseller who manages, from time to time, to find himself immersed in trouble. I also gave him an eidetic memory, since, well, who wouldn’t like one of those?

At the same time, Cotton is also a lot like all of us.  He has to work for a living.  His marriage has failed.  He maintains a difficult relationship with his teenage son.  Yet, when necessary, he can do some extraordinary things.  I like how readers have identified with him. 

How do you handle the suspense to keep your readers breathless till the end?

I make use of my point of view characters, which range from 3 to 5, and an intermixing of the various stages on which these characters play.  Usually I have 3 stages.  A few of the books had 2.  Bouncing back and forth between these, as the plot unfolds, is one technique in maintaining suspense.

Which part of the novel did you enjoy writing the most, intermixing action and adventure?

All of it is tough; none of it is a joy.  But the ending is the best of all.  That feeling that the story is finally over (after 18 months of being in my brain).  Sure, there are lots of edits ahead, but the toughest part, the total, creative part where everything in that world is thought anew, is over.

Is it fact or fiction? – Should we believe that The Templar Legacy actually existed?

Why not?  It’s entirely possible.  The French king looked in vain, but to this day no remnant of the Templar’s wealth or knowledge has been discovered. There have been countless theories as to what the treasure and the knowledge entailed and where they might have ended up, everything from the European continent, to Scotland, to even America where the Templars supposedly sailed in the 13th century. But nothing has ever been proven. What better fodder for a novelist.

Have you met the end of your quest to find out the hidden truths of Christianity?

My three books with religious themes were The Third Secret  (in re Catholicism); The Templar Legacy (in re New Testament); and The Alexandria Link  (in re Old Testament).  I explored the whole gambit of religion with those three.  After that, the stories have moved on to other subjects.

Are you yourself a fan of historical fiction? Which ones have been your favorites?

I love historical fiction.  Pillars of the Earth, by Ken Follett, is one of my favorite books, as is The Sunne in Splendor, by Sharon Kaye Penman.  James Michener is my favorite writer of all.  But I don’t write historical fiction.  My stories are international suspense thrillers — a mixture of secrets, conspiracies, history, action, adventure, and international settings.  There’s something from the past, lost and forgotten, that still holds great relevance today.

Any message for your readers?

Just my thanks for their support.  I appreciate them more than I can ever say. As long as they keep reading, I’ll keep writing.

Browse more exciting thrillers at http://bit.ly/q9hnZ6

My Journey with Mistwood

Monday, October 17th, 2011

Author: Leah Cypess

When I started writing Mistwood, I didn’t know I was writing a book. I had a vision of a scene – a supernatural creature in a misty forest, being hunted by men on horseback – wrote it down, and just kept writing. I thought I might be writing a short story… but as I followed my characters, making the plot up as I went along, new twists and situations kept making their way into the pages. Before I knew it, I had a book-length manuscript on my hands.

But it was not a book. What it was, actually, was a mess. There’s a reason why some writers outline; it must be nice to end up with a first draft that actually hangs together coherently! It took four revisions, with the help of numerous critique partners, before Mistwood was in good enough shape to be sent off to publishers.

In the end, Mistwood is the story of an ancient shape shifter bound by a spell to protect the kings of a certain dynasty. And of a confused girl found in a forest who is told she is that ancient shape shifter, even though she can’t remember anything about her past. Possibly they’re the same story… possibly not. She’ll have to figure it out while protecting the current prince, navigating his intrigue-filled court, and making sure nobody finds out that she has lost both her memory and her powers.

Many things changed during the years I spent writing Mistwood, and then revising it, and then re-revising it… but the core of the story remained the same. And interestingly, one of the things that never changed was the first paragraph, the one I wrote long before I knew that this was going to be a book or what it was going to be about:

She knew every inch of the forest, every narrow path that twisted and wound its way beneath the silver branches. They never should have found her. She should have been up and away long before the horses’ scent came to her, and very long before the sound of men’s whispering drifted to her ears. Through the trees or in them, even above them, she could have fled in an instant, or hidden herself so well that they could scour the forest for days and never find her.

And the story goes on from there.

Observe the World Food Day and Support the Cause

Saturday, October 15th, 2011

Author: Sherry Helms

World Food Day will be celebrated on Sunday, October 16, throughout the world. This universal day, observed every year in 150 countries, is important for its public awareness about how to eradicate poverty and hunger and how to enrich our food culture.

Every year different themes are selected based on the investment policies in agriculture, education and health. The theme for the World Food Day this year is how to control the food price- how to change the present phase of crisis to a stable phase.

So how are you planning to observe this year’s Food Day? Are you going to participate in any Sunday Dinner? What else you can do to spread the awareness campaign among your friends and family? We have some book suggestions for you through which you can convey the message of this universal day.

The Omnivore’s Dilemma: In this world of variety of food choices, the food we consume marks our own identity, the country’s identity and also our environment. The bestselling author Michael Pollan gives us an eye- opening exploration of the variety of dimensions of eating culture in America and gives an extraordinary answer tour ordinary question- “What should we have for dinner?” Now think differently, eat differently.

In Defense of Food: If the previous book by Michael Pollan shows you the light of the actual way of eating then this book by the same author shows you the right way of ‘how’ to change your eating habits. It suggests how to make thoughtful food choices and how to grow a healthy food culture in the country and in the world. If you really care for your own health and your family, then this book is a must read for you.

Animal, Vegetable, Miracle: Barbara Kingsolver in this memoir shares her year- long experiences of forsaking industrial food and growing food on their own. This shows how a healthier and cost- effective agricultural and food culture can be inspired in our own neighborhood. Grow a better economy and environment around you.

Food Rules: An Eater’s Manual:  Michael Pollan is indispensable for you if you are looking for the most reliable resource for food- related issues. If you are really mindful of what you eat daily, Food Rules by him is an all- time pocket companion for you which you can use in any kind of situation. Trust me; you will definitely experience some better results.

Fast Food Nation: Eric Schlosser condemns the globalization of the fast food industry that emerged after the Second World War and is gradually becoming a mass culture. It has given rise to major health and cultural hazards like obesity and environmental degradation. This education is going to be scary as well as profound for you. Start thinking about it right now.

Gift anyone among these books to your family or friends on this World Food Day and support the noble cause actively.

Browse more books on Food and Agriculture at http://www.printsasia.com/books/Agriculture

The Secret Year: A Love Story or Not?

Thursday, October 13th, 2011

Author: Jennifer R. Hubbard

Some people have described The Secret Year as a romance, but I like to ask readers and book clubs: IS this a love story?

The central relationship is intense, secret—and obsessive. Yet beyond the obsession, there is genuine common ground between Colt and Julia. Despite coming from opposite sides of the track, they share certain attitudes and points of view, a certain sense of humor. They see through each other’s defenses. Is that love or something else? And why would two people keep a relationship secret for a year?

Over the course of that year, the pressure of the secrecy increases, and then Julia dies suddenly, leaving Colt alone to deal with all the consequences on top of the grief. When Julia’s diary falls into his hands, he gets to see their relationship from her point of view. We often wish we knew what other people think of us, how they see us—but in reality, that can bring unwelcome surprises, as Colt discovers.

In real life, people often have trouble distinguishing between love and lust, between affection and crush, between neediness and need. Our stories can model what we wish we had—or they can be cautionary tales of what we don’t need. Or they can be a blend, because relationships are seldom simple. People don’t come with “good” or “bad” branded on their foreheads, with “Perfect for me” or, “Stay away!” tattooed across their teeth. Sometimes we fool ourselves into thinking we’re in love. Sometimes we don’t recognize our own love stories until we’re well into the middle of them.

So, The Secret Year is a love story? I like hearing what readers think.

Sliding on the Edge: The Author’s Voice

Tuesday, October 11th, 2011

Author: C. Lee. McKenzie

SLIDING ON THE EDGE was my first book and it was one I felt deeply about. I still do because the reason I wrote it hasn’t gone away. Here’s the quote from an Associated Press article that started me on this journey from idea to book. “Nearly 1 in 5 students at two Ivy League schools say they have purposely injured themselves by cutting, burning or other methods . . .”

At book signings, I talked to young adults who either knew a cutter or had performed some sort of self-abuse themselves. The best thing they shared with me was that my book helped them by letting them be a part of my character’s story. One said she didn’t want the book to end, so she read it again. I think I cried, but it was joyful.

I’m often asked why I used first person point of view for Shawna, my sixteen-year-old character, then switched to third person point of view when writing Kay’s, her grandmother’s, chapters. My answer: that seemed the only way for the story to unfold. Shawna had always depended on herself for survival, and she was the only one she trusted. Shawna was all about Shawna and no one else. Kay was a more traditional character; third person suited her. Also Shawna and Kay, were worlds apart, and these different points of view added to their separation, emphasized how unlike these women of different generations saw things. It was the story’s job to bring them together so they could save each other.

And then there was that horse. I struggled with “save the horse/don’t save the horse” every night until I wrote the last chapter. I had conversations with that horse in my sleep.   I won’t say what he persuaded me to do, just in case someone wants to read the book. No spoilers here.

I have confidence in SLIDING ON THE EDGE, and I believe this is a book with long-distance legs that will continue to find readers in the coming years. I hope to hear from readers. It’s wonderful when I do.

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