Blog Archives

Meet the Characters in the Deadly Games Series

K&TNEW
Welcome to the Kiss and Thrill blog! I’m Lena Diaz, author of the Deadly Games Thrillers series. To celebrate the release of my newest novel, Take the Key and Lock Her Up, I thought it would be fun to review the characters in the series (mostly the Buchanan family) and how the books relate to each other. The books are stand alone. You don’t have to read them all to understand each one, but it’s more fun if you do, because you get to enjoy the recurring characters from earlier books and watch them grow and change.
takethekeyBut before I talk characters, here’s the blurb for the newest book, Take the Key and Lock Her Up.

A trained assassin…

A newly minted detective…

A killer who locks his victims away for years…

When their worlds collide, no one is safe, not even the Buchanans.

Detective Emily O’Malley just stumbled upon a killer’s lair—and the remains of a woman he kept locked away for years. But this killer isn’t done yet. More women are missing, and all clues point to Devlin Buchanan—the man who seems to know just a little too much. Emily’s instincts are rarely wrong, and now they’re telling her this sexy, mysterious man is hiding something big …

As a trained assassin for EXIT Inc—a top-secret mercenary group posing as an international tour company—Devlin “Devil” Buchanan isn’t afraid to take justice into his own hands. But when the hot new detective on his trail gets too close to the organization and a contract is placed on her life, Devlin does the only thing he can: he turns rogue agent and kidnaps her to save her life.

With EXIT Inc closing in and passions running hot between them, Emily and Devlin must work together to find the missing women and clear both their names before time runs out … and the key to freedom is thrown away.

Writing Devlin Buchanan as an assassin was a lot of fun and a really difficult challenge. He’s a true bad boy hero, but once you find out why he kills, I hope you’ll come to love him as much as I do, and as much as Emily comes to love him by the end of the story.

Now for a quick sketch of who’s who in the series.

Book #1: He Kills Me, He Kills Me Not

Logan Richards is a Chief of Police in Florida who works to find a serial killer before he can come back and kill the lone surviving victim of his sadistic games, Amanda Stockton.

Pierce Buchanan, an FBI Special Agent from Savannah, Georgia, is a secondary character who helps Logan catch the killer. Madison McKinley, Logan’s sister, is also introduced as a secondary character.

Book #2: Simon Says Die

Pierce Buchanan is back in this book, this time as the hero. His best friend, Logan Richards, is out of the country on his honeymoon with his new bride Amanda. Logan asks Pierce to look after his sister, Madison, because he suspects something is going on, something she’s afraid of but is keeping secret. In the time between books 1 and 2, Pierce and Madison have already dated and split up, for reasons only Madison knows. Pierce is understandably reluctant to have anything to do with her again, but he can’t tell his best friend no. In this story the big question is whether the serial killer, Simon, who is stalking Savannah is also stalking Madison. Or whether Madison is involved in something else altogether.

The entire Buchanan family is introduced in this book. We meet the single-father, Alex, and his five adult sons: Braedon, Pierce, Devlin, and identical twin brothers Matt, and Austin. Pierce’s FBI partner, Tessa James, is also introduced.

Book #3: Ashes, Ashes, They All Fall Dead

Matt Buchanan plays center stage as a private investigator who helps the FBI with a cold case. He works with FBI Special Agent Tessa James on the case, which has more twists and turns than either of them ever expected.

Book #4: Take the Key and Lock Her Up

Devlin “Devil” Buchanan is a reluctant hero in this newest novel, when he saves police detective Emily O’Malley. That starts an entire series of twists and turns and puts the entire Buchanan family at risk.

I hope you’ve enjoyed learning about the Deadly Games Series. Do you have a favorite series you follow? Comment for a chance to win a free digital copy of Take the Key and Lock Her Up. The winner will be announced on Thursday.

Click HERE to access buy links for Take the Key and Lock Her Up.

Or visit my website for more information. www.LenaDiaz.com

Brad Meltzer & The Fifth Assassin

Bestselling author, Brad Meltzer, sat down with Diana Belchase on the night his newest novel, The Fifth Assassin released at Politics and Prose bookstore in Washington, DC.  Find out how Brad came up with the idea for a Presidential serial assassin, the scoop on his TV show, Decoded, and how he ended up consulting for the Department of Homeland Defense.

Share with us your favorite President and why, and you’ll be entered to win a signed copy of Brad’s new book, The Fifth Assassin!  Just leave a comment below.  Check back at the end of Manda Collin’s interview on Tuesday to see who won!

For a look at the Everybody Hates Brad Meltzer funny video The Fifth Assassinstarring his grandmother, her friends and his kids’ Little League team click here.  Buy the Fifth Assassin everywhere, preferably at your favorite independent bookstore.  And to see a truly heartwarming surprise Brad received at Politics and Prose Bookstore last week in another video I shot, please click here:  Brad Meltzer’s USO Surprise.  I guarantee there won’t be a dry eye when you’re done.

***

Be sure to join us next Tuesday when Sarah Andre interviews our very own Manda Collins about the third and final novel in her Ugly Ducklings trilogy, HOW TO ENTICE AN EARL.

When Maddie’s brother becomes prime suspect in a friend’s murder, she’ll do whatever it takes to find the real killer. Even work alongside the newly elevated, Christian Monteith, Earl of Gresham, who poses a real danger…to her heart.

Wendy Corsi Staub ♥ New York

Another sleepless night…NYT bestselling author Wendy Corsi Staub‘s newest psychological thriller will not only keep you up at night, but also keep you guessing till the end as she takes you on a dark, twisty journey on the flipside of normal. Wendy joins us to talk about NIGHTWATCHER, the first book in her New York trilogy (Harper, August 28, 2012).

“In memory of the thousands of innocent souls lost on September 11, 2001, and in honor of my beloved New York, the greatest city in the world.” NIGHTWATCHER Dedication

Krista: Why did you choose New York City on September 11, 2001 for NIGHTWATCHER’s setting?

Wendy: The initial premise came to me within a day or two of the attacks, when I heard on the local NYC news that crime was drastically down all over the city—robberies, assaults, murders, etc., were all but nonexistent as people came together in an unprecedented way. But there was absolutely no way I was going to write about it when it was all so raw.  I promised myself that I would wait at least a decade to revisit the plot, and that is exactly what I did.

Krista: “Anything is possible” is the optimistic philosophy of NIGHTWATCHER’s 24-year-old protagonist Allison Taylor, a Midwestern transplant working as a style editor for a NYC fashion magazine. After the attacks on the Twin Towers, these words take on a more ominous tone as her world view shifts. How did 9/11 change your view of the world?

Wendy: New York is my world—I fell in love with this city on my first visit with a school group at thirteen, moved here out of college, and have lived here (now in the suburbs) for over twenty-five years. In fact, I once worked in one of the twin towers. So in a way, I’ve found myself thinking, “there but for the grace of God…”  On that  particular morning, my husband was headed for a meeting in a building adjacent to the WTC, and I was on my way to meet my editor, who worked in the Woolworth building a few blocks north. The planes struck before I left home, and before my husband left his midtown office, so we were safe. But on that ordinary morning, thousands just like us, people who were going about their daily business, people who never dreamed that they were in the path of a deadly terror attack, lost their lives. For me, the random luck people experienced on that day—good and bad—drove home the cliché about living every moment to the fullest because you just never know.

But one of my favorite things about New York—and New Yorkers, and Americans, really—is a resilient, gutsy spirit. After the initial period of jitters and fear, I was, like most New Yorkers, determined to proceed with life as I knew it. If the first responders and the people who escaped those burning towers and the people who lost loved ones could get up in the morning and start a new day, the rest of us had no choice, did we? Of course we don’t—we can’t—ever forget, but we can—and must—go on with business as usual, living wholeheartedly and taking elevators to high floors and boarding planes without hesitation.

Krista: The serial killer in this book is called the Nightwatcher which sounds scary and threatening in the context of the novel, but I remember another nightwatcher in those months after 9/11: the US Military. The constant drone of fighter jets circling Washington, especially at night, brought me a sense of safety. Did you think about the duality inherent in the term Nightwatcher when you chose it for the first story of your new trilogy?

Wendy: I’d love to be able to say yes, of course, that’s absolutely it. But to be honest, I had originally entitled the book NIGHTCRAWLER. The sales team vetoed it at the eleventh hour and I needed a new title, pronto. I was brainstorming with my husband as we were driving somewhere that day, and our then-thirteen-year-old piped up from the back seat, “How about NIGHTWATCHER?” It was perfect. It was also too late to give him official credit in the book, so I’m proudly doing so here. And of course, it works well on so many levels, particularly the one you cite.

Krista: In your thrillers, you peel back the public façade of families to examine the ugly underbelly of private dysfunction and illness. What is it about families that interests you as a writer?

Wendy: Most of us have a family of some sort; most of us have someone who means the world to us, someone we would stop at nothing to protect. Nearly all parents, for example, have a powerful primal instinct to keep their children safe from harm. And nearly all of us feel safest when we are at home. That theme works its way into all my thrillers—danger crossing that sacred threshold, violating the safe haven, threatening all that my characters hold dear. Thus, the walls come down: my readers find it possible to step into my characters’ shoes, and to think “this could happen to me.”

Krista: NYT bestselling author Lisa Jackson wrote, “If you like Mary Higgins Clark, you’ll love Wendy Corsi Staub!” I read recently that MHC has her own profit line on Simon & Schuster’s operating budget. How does it feel to be compared to the grande dame of the psychological thriller?

Wendy: That was a pinch-me moment, to be sure—Mary Higgins Clark wrote the first two thrillers I ever read, in sixth grade: WHERE ARE THE CHILDREN and A STRANGER IS WATCHING. I already knew I wanted to become an author at that point, but had never read a suspense novel. Thanks to her, I was instantly hooked on the genre, and went on to devour every book she wrote. Flash forward a couple of decades, when, as a New York Times bestselling author myself, I was a finalist at last year’s MWA Edgars for the Simon & Schuster Mary Higgins Clark award. I had met Mary a few times at that point, always briefly at industry events, and had found her to be a gracious class act. But on awards night, we really got a chance to talk.

I got to tell her what an inspiration she had been since my childhood, and she told me that she had read LIVE TO TELL and found it “absolutely terrific.” THAT was probably the biggest pinch-me moment of my life—and there’s photo evidence! 

Krista: I read on wendycorsistaubcommunity.com that you hate—I mean strongly dislike—chocolate. For real? So what is your guilty pleasure?

Wendy: Believe me, I have too many to count. A sweet tooth just doesn’t happen to be one of them, and chocolate, in particular, gives me a headache and makes me nauseous. Ugh. Other than that, name your poison: Wine? Coffee? Salty-crunchy anything? Rare red meat? Sushi, Chinese food, Italian…Bring it on!

Krista: Tell us a bit about the next two novels of the NIGHTWATCHER trilogy: SLEEPWALKER and SHADOWKILLER. When they will be published?

Wendy: The very last scene of NIGHTWATCHER is a twist that opens the door to SLEEPWALKER’s plot, and the same is true of the final twist in SLEEPWALKER, which leads into SHADOWKILLER. Like NIGHTWATCHER and my other thrillers, these books feature elements my readers have come to expect from me: villains hiding in plain sight, multiple viewpoints, and of course, plenty of surprises.

SLEEPWALKER goes on sale just weeks after NIGHTWATCHER, on September 25. The novel opens on the ten-year anniversary of the September 11th attacks. Allison is now a happily married mom living in the suburbs, but the shadows of the past are never far off. A new series of murders bear striking similarity to the NIGHTWATCHER—same MO, same signature–but he can’t have committed them. Only a few people know the details of the original crimes: most notably Allison—and her husband, who has been sleepwalking lately with no memory of his nighttime escapades. Because this book was set in a real time frame of fall 2011, and was written before those months came to pass, I found myself having to rewrite the book to reflect reality: Osama Bin Laden had been killed, an earthquake and hurricane had struck New York, a suburban blizzard canceled Halloween. All of those events served to enhance my plot—particularly the storm-related power outages!—but by the time I had rewritten for the third or fourth time last fall to reflect reality (a major part of the plot unfolds around Halloween), I was praying for an uneventful November, both in real life and fiction!

SHADOWKILLER comes out a few months after the first two books, on January 27, and is written in two parts. The first half flashes back to the year 2000, when we meet our main characters in the “past” and follow the paths that led their lives to collide for better or worse. Seemingly minor plot points from NIGHTWATCHER and SLEEPWALKER will now catapult into the action, and there are some twists that will have careful readers slapping their heads in the old “I never saw that coming—but I should have!” The second half of the novel picks up in 2012, with Allison and her family picking up the pieces from the SLEEPWALKER plot.

Now it’s your turn to ask Wendy questions about her new trilogy. What was the first suspense novel you ever read? Wendy is giving away an autographed copy of NIGHTWATCHER to one lucky commenter. Check back on Thursday to see if it’s you!

Please take a moment to remember….

WILLIAM SIMON: There ARE No Secrets…

 "Until the screaming started, it was just another Monday morning….
 
 I’d come in early to review the weekend network traffic logs. I did that, sometimes, when the place was quiet and before the workweek began.
 
 I hung up my suit jacket, closed the door, and settled in with the stack of printouts.
 
 As I read the first page, I took out my cufflinks and put them in a trouser pocket, rolling up my sleeves until the air conditioner kicked in. In a silent protest against ‘business casual’, I kept my tie knotted, but unbuttoned my vest. Besides, I wanted to see how long it would take someone to notice the abstract-looking pattern on my tie was really Wile E. Coyote chasing the Roadrunner." SPIDER'S DANCE
[This is] a remarkably entertaining story, due mainly to the protagonist’s sense of humor. There are laugh-out-loud moments throughout, and these do not take away from the mystery or suspense. Unique characters, an original hero (we don’t get that too often), and an up to the minute topical plot carries SPIDER’S DANCE to the bank.
 
Raymond Benson, author of THE BLACK STILETTO, and THE BLACK STILETTO: BLACK AND WHITE, six James Bond continuation novels, and the Spike Berringer Rock ‘n Roll P.I. series.

Meet William Simon…good friend, great author and honest-to-goodness Renaissance Man. Like his novel’s hero, Nicholas White wearing a cartoon tie, William strolls around with a silver-handled, black walking cane. Not because he needs it, but because it’s his own quirky statement to the world. (Don’t tell him it also makes him look incredibly dashing and gives him a nostalgic, noir presence.)

Both William and Nicholas White would have blended in perfectly in the circa ’50’s jazz, black-and-white movies, Frank Sinatra period. Instead, they were rudely dropped into the modern, high-tech, corporate intrigue of this era…and have adapted masterfully. Check this out:

 What's your day-job, William? 

I am the owner and lead investigator for an agency that specializes in computer forensics and electronic evidence exclusively.  I've been doing this since 2002, and it has led to some.... shall we say 'interesting' experiences.

(That's right, dear reader, he's a PI who can take a carefully deleted, broken, burned up hard drive and still uncover its secrets. Formidable? Cool? Uh...yeah.)
 

 Where do you get your ideas of espionage and intrigue?(she asks knowingly.) 🙂

I think it was Dean Koonz who once compared a writer's mind to a bubbling cauldron of stuff, and sometimes an idea floats to the top. It's all material, as writers we just need to learn how to use it.

What inspired your contribution(SPIDER'S TANGO)to the fabulous LOVE IS MURDER 3 anthology?

 I’ve worked as a computer forensic investigator since 2002, and some of the cases have been less than pleasant. 

The original draft of ‘Tango’, submitted for THRILLER 2, was much more serious, grimmer and, in some sections, brutal.  That didn’t make the final cut for the theme the publisher was aiming for. 

The day came a couple of years after that when submissions were opened for THRILLER 3, asking for stories of romantic suspense. 

In one of those coincidences that a writer would get nailed for – but happens all the time in Real Life – Turner Classic Movies had been running a marathon of Spencer Tracy/Katherine Hepburn movies.  Which led to my digging out the DVD’s of “Remington Steele” and “Moonlighting,” both old favorites. 

After days of watching and appreciating clever and witty banter between the sexes, I re-wrote ‘Tango’ to fall more into that category.  I was stunned to learn it had been accepted for the anthology, and am very proud to be included in such stellar company.  I’m an unabashed fan of many of the authors in this, so it’s extra-special to be in their company.

Besides belonging to International Thriller Writers, you're an active member of two Houston RWA groups. What's a guy like you doing in romance groups like that? 🙂

I joined Northwest Houston RWA way back when (pre-Y2k!) because it was the closest writers' group I could find.  One of the things that struck me immediately was that 'romance' as a description applies to almost every book out there, and the one thing about both chapters is even though I write more in a mystery/thriller vein, everyone opened their arms and their hearts to all writers who came through the door!

What are you working on now?

I'm working on a semi-sequel to Spider's Dance, involving Michaela O'Brien's brother, Ian McAllister. He left the family, adopted his grandfather's last name and works throughout Europe. Let's just say nothing is what it seems.

In addition to that I'm developing a novel set in 1959 Las Vegas, with a casino manager and an investigator for the NDI (Nevada Division of Investigation)following the trail of a mysterious billionaire.

If you were not a writer/PI what career would you choose?

Federal Law Enforcement; it was the family business so to speak. I was the Black Sheep of the family for a while when I chose the corporate world instead.

Gushy fan question: Describe your favorite meal.

Italian restaurants get my attention. We live in Texas so, of course, Mexican cuisine is a favorite. A fine steak is always a good thing, and a perfect cheeseburger gets priority attention. Given a choice, though, Italian always wins. 

Thank you for taking the time to answer all these questions, William. You're a guy who likes his privacy, so we really appreciate this!

Additional praise for SPIDER'S DANCE:

“I absolutely loved the witty, elegant thriller, SPIDER’S DANCE. Chock-full of fascinating characters, SPIDER’S DANCE thrusts the reader into the high stakes world of Big Oil—and an even bigger cover-up. In the aftermath of a devastating environmental disaster, our eminently reliable narrator, Nicholas White, carries us through this suspenseful tale with a combination of fearlessness and panache. Nicholas is a man you can trust, written by an author who has been there. Throw in a sunken World War II submarine and a high-stakes international scam of harrowing proportions, and you’ve got a corker!” —J. Carson Black, Best-selling Author of ICON and THE SHOP.

(William Simon also publishes under the pseudonym: Will Graham.)

For more information on William: www.wmsimon.com

 

Got a question or comment for William? He’ll be stopping by today to answer them all with his usual dry wit!

ONE LUCKY COMMENTER WILL RECEIVE A COPY OF WILLIAM SIMON’S THRILLING NOVEL SPIDER’S DANCE.

CHECK BACK ON THURSDAY!

 

GOLIATH? MEET DAVID.

Americans love an underdog. Whether it’s the downtrodden hero in a movie, the come-from-behind win of a loser team or our kick-ass attitude in the Revolutionary War, we root for the small guy! Especially if said guy is unassuming, passionate and relentless in the face of horrible odds.

   Meet the 2012 literary version of an underdog: Murder By The Book Bookstore in Houston, Texas. Their website states it’s one of the oldest and largest specialty bookstores in the nation, having opened their doors in 1980 and stocking over 25,000 books.

   Despite that formidable pedigree, MBTB is unassuming. Situated in a tiny strip center the interior is dim and cozy, jam-packed with new and used hardbacks, paperbacks, T-Shirts with cool literary sayings and comfortable old armchairs. At MBTB you are welcome to hang out, read, explore and not feel like you have to keep buying expensive lattes. (But if you want one–the coffee shop is next door.)  

   Passionate? You bet. Ask about any book and the staff can lead you to the exact location in a far corner bookshelf. Want to know when Author X is coming out with Book Y? They’ll know and chances are they’ve already booked Author X for a book signing.

   Last year alone MBTB hosted more than 200 of America’s favorite mystery, crime, suspense, science fiction, fantasy and romantic suspense authors. And I mean BIG names. Lisa Gardner, Tami Hoag and Lisa Scottoline all appeared within 6 weeks of each other (I know this because I went to all 3!) How about P.D. James? Sue Grafton? Harlan Coban? Yep, all have signed books in the little Houston bookstore. Many times.

Relentless? Check. Murder By The Book is one of the most aggressive ma & pa bookstores to take on the giant e-book sites and has no plans to surrender. In fact they keep coming up with ingenious ways to stay competitive and capture reader attention, even if you don’t live anywhere near Houston!

   Meet the leader of this scrappy underdog team: John Kwiatkowski, Publicity Manager for Murder By The Book.

   Welcome, John and thank you for being here! If a reader has a Nook/Kindle e-reader and loves the convenience of the click-to-buy read, how can an “Indie Bookstore” like MBTB stay afloat in 2012?

   It’s easy with a Nook.  You can purchase eBooks from the Murder By The Book website and load them onto your Nook. 

   With Kindle it’s a little bit trickier.  The Kindle Fire will allow you purchase eBooks from other retailers, but the original Kindle does not.  

   In most cases, we’re selling our ebooks for the same price as most other retailers. 

   We’re always happy to walk you through the process.  More info about how to use Google eBooks with different types of eReaders can be found on our website. 

   How does the resell work with e-Google? (Meaning where do readers go to shop and how do they get it downloaded to their specific e-reader?)

   With Google eBooks, customers can purchase and download eBooks directly from the MBTB website. 

   In the bottom left-hand column of our website there’s a box that allows customers to search or browse for eBooks that are available from us. 

   Google eBooks work with just about any kind of eReader and we have the instructions for each type of reader linked on the website.  http://www.murderbooks.com/gbook/help

   I know most of our suspense readers would love to browse in your store or buy from you online. But they also enjoy other genres (ex., historical romance.) Is that something they could still buy from you?

   One of the wonderful things about our partnership with the ABA and Google eBooks is that any book that is available as a Google eBook is available for purchase from our store.  It doesn’t have to be a mystery. 

   We’re also always willing to order any book (regardless of genre) for our in-store customers.  We may require prepayment if it’s not something we would stock on the shelves, and we can usually get it within a week. 

   How is the American Booksellers Association (ABA) helping indie bookstores like MBTB?

   The ABA has helped us out immensely.  Without the help of the ABA it would be almost impossible for small stores like us to get into the eBook game.  They’ve set up all the infrastructure that allows us to be able to compete in the eBook business. 

   Without their help, we would have had to find a reseller and develop a high maintenance website that would allow us to deliver the books to customers.  Thanks to the ABA, we’re able to focus on selling books and not the logistics of being able to do so. 

   Tell us about your idea to Skype during book signings.

   We’ve done several Skype events this year.  Our first was with Alan Bradley, the author of the Flavia de Luce mysteries.  Bradley lives in Malta, so a tour wasn’t possible at the time.  It was wonderful to welcome him into the store even if it was just through a webcam. 

   Our most successful Skype event was with Douglas Preston and Lincoln Child.  We had Preston in the store, and Child was able to join via Skype.  Since Child doesn’t travel, it was a unique opportunity for fans to see them together. 

   When possible, we’ve also tried to arrange for signed copies of the author’s book when we’re hosting them for a Skype event. 

   Do you have e-book signings?

   We haven’t started doing eBook signings yet.  Realistically, the profit margin on eBooks is so low that it would be tough for us to sell enough eBooks at a signing to warrant the additional cost of staying open and staffing the store.  It’s not something that we’re ruling out, but not something we’re actively pursuing right now. 

   Tell us why buying novels (either hardcopy or electronically) from MBTB and other indie bookstores is more customer-oriented than large brick and mortar chains or online sites?

   We spend a lot of time getting to know what we have in the store.  It doesn’t stop when we go home for the night.We’re still reading new releases or discovering old gems that might have slipped by us. 

   While we might not have read every book in the store, we can usually offer some insight about most titles, whether it’s from trade reviews or other customer feedback. 

   Each staff member has their own “Staff Picks” shelf, and the remaining shelves in the bookstore are filled with handwritten recommendations.  We really strive to get the right book into the hands of a reader that will love it. 

   We also host a variety of events in the store.  We have a series of luncheon events and have hosted authors like Lee Child, Charlaine Harris, Michael Connelly, and Anne Perry.  The luncheons offer a more intimate feeling than our regular events at the store. 

   We host evening events at the store for a wide range of authors from established bestsellers to debut authors just starting out. 

   We also have two books groups that meet here in the store. 

   In addition to author events, we also host Murder By The Book Recommends events where the staff talks about their favorite recent reads. 

   Earlier this year we hosted an eBook open house where we encouraged customers to bring in their eReaders and we would walk them through the steps of purchasing eBooks from us.

   Basically our goal is to provide an experience, whether it’s meeting your favorite author or discovering someone who could become your favorite author.  That’s missing when you’re just ordering a book from a website. 

   Whew! That’s really creative! Online sites have discounts and specials. Tell us how you fight that?

   We have several promotions that we run throughout the year.  We typically have a used book sale during the summer and the last week of the year. 

   In recent years, we just started offering gift bundles.  We take some of our favorite books from the past year and create gift sets to satisfy any type of reading tastes.  We try to pick lesser known titles that people might not have picked up on their own. 

   Last year some of our giftsets had themes like Private Eyes Are Watching You, Southern Gothic Gems, Supernatural Cozies, Excellent Espionage, Southern Humor, and more.  We love helping pick out books for gifts!

   Can a reader download an e-book from you if they do not have a Kindle/Nook?

   They can.  If you still want to read eBooks or eOriginal short stories but don’t want to invest in an eReader, there is a program called Adobe Digital Editions that allows you to open and read eBooks on your desktop.  The program is free and can be downloaded here: http://www.adobe.com/products/digitaleditions/devices/

   Who’s the most amazing author to have held a book signing and why?

   It’s so hard to pick a favorite.  We hosted over 200 authors in 2011.  Our biggest surprise lately was being able to host Anne Rice in the store.  Her publisher was extending her tour and we were thrilled to be one of the stores that was asked to host her. 

   We had over 500 people in the store over the course of the evening and had such a great time!

   Huge events like that are always fun because everyone is so excited about being here.  It’s impossible not to have a good time when you’re surrounded by that many people who can’t wait to meet an author that has meant so much to them. 

   A huge percentage of your clients are in other states and countries. Why is that, given that there are certainly bookstores in those places?

   A large part of it is because of the signed books that we’re able to offer.  With so many authors visiting the store, we offer a chance for customers to order signed books from us.  We can get them inscribed. 

   As long as a copy of the author’s newest book is purchased from us, we even allow people to send in other books by an author to get them signed as well. 

   What question should I have asked that you want readers to know?

   People always want to know how our in-store signings work.  For large events, (famous author names) we give out first-come-first-serve line numbers with the purchase of the author’s newest book.  (The line numbers become available the day the book goes on sale.)  And the number you get is your actual place in line after the author-talk and Q&As, when the actual book signing begins.

   The talks are always free to attend, but to get anything signed the author’s newest book has to be purchased from us. 

   We’ve got a complete listing of our signing policies on our website.  http://www.murderbooks.com/signing-policies

   Well America, summer is here and books abound! Why not take a chance on an Indie Bookstore and electronically download some great reads for the same prices as the giant e-sites? Permission given to pass the blog interview or information to everyone in your social network. Let’s get the word out and do our part to help the cozy ma & pa underdogs!

Receive a $25 gift card to Murder By The Book, to use in-store or electronically!

Simply leave a question or comment for John anytime today and you’re automatically in the our Kiss and Thrill drawing. The lucky winner’s name will be posted on Thursday, May 31st, so check back!

Visit John and the rest of the MBTB staff at www.murderbooks.com

Please don’t forget to bid on the amazing items in Brenda Novak’s 2012 Cure for Diabetes Auction! ONLY 2 DAYS REMAIN! http://brendanovak.auctionanything.com/

Sexy Movies, Sexy Men, and Sexy Writing: Three Days of the Condor, Robert Redford, and James Grady

Robert Redford (left) is always a spectacular way to start a blog, with the also spectacular James Grady on the right.

Today we’re priviledged to have with us legendary James Grady, author of Six Days of the Condor which became the iconic Robert Redford movie, Three Days of the Condor.  James has won literary prizes around the globe, including France’s Grand Prix Du Roman Noir in 2001, Italy’s Raymond Chandler Award in 2003, and Japan’s Baka-Misu Literary Award in 2008.

James doesn’t merely talk, he lights up the room, exudes a charge that amplifies and builds, reaching into the dark corners of the audience, until everyone is astonished by his fingertip information and unique perspective.  No matter your political opinions, he has the ability to dredge up facts, turn your mind around, and get people motivated. 

James Grady and Diana Belchase

It is that same energy that pervades his books.  He takes the most implausible of facts – for instance, crazies in a secret CIA asylum, let loose on society (Mad Dogs), and not only suspends disbelief, but transports the reader to a roller coaster of an adventure that doesn’t let go until the very last word. 

James wil be giving one lucky reader who leaves a comment a copy of his book, Mad Dogs, so make sure you hit that comment button or you won’t be in the running!

Please help me welcome, James Grady.

Diana:  You hit the best seller list the first time out of the gate with Six Days of the Condor .  How did success impact on you as a young writer?  If you had to do it all over again and could choose, would you want success at such an early stage or would it have been better a little later on?  Did you understand what an incredible, lotto-winning miracle, that kind of success was at that time?

James:  Condor swept me up like the tornado in The Wizard Of Oz.  Living in a  Montana shack, I knew how incredibly lucky I was.  My major fear was that I would blow or betray my luck.  Condor gave me a chance to do what I always wanted – write and publish fiction – plus I didn’t want to be some kind of footnote burn-out jerk.  After Condor, I worked as a U.S. Senate aide and a muckraking reporter making far less than my fiction work because I wanted to use my life to do more, learn more.  I lived like a blue jeaned grad student, worked as hard and as fast as I could, 12 hour days.  I think success so early let me grow into being the kind of writer who – I hope – has earned it.  Of course, now I’d love another tornado like that one!

Sydney Pollack, James Grady, and the late producer, Stanley Schneider in a rare photo, discussing the script on the set of 3 Days of the Condor.

Diana:  As a journalist who has focused on the intelligence community for much of your life, how do you feel about the average spy novel?  What kinds of things drive you nutty when you read them?

James:  Most modern spy novels are better than most modern spy movies that are often actually “cop” or “superhero” cinemas.  I’m not a fan of “grand conspiracy” spy novels. What makes spy novels hard to write is that at their heart, they are novels about politics and personal integrity.  We’re lucky to have a bunch of “spy novelists” out there who get that, but what drives me nutty is the spy novel where nothing “real” or moral feels at stake or where the characters seem to be in a video game.

Diana:  Condor was a quiet novel — by that I mean it was about an man battling the system with little more than his brain, and winning.  Many books and films these days have more things that go boom than intelligent thought.  Even Mad Dogs, while very smart, is much more action packed — which is also a direct result of the characters.  Do you think the quiet novel is a lost art?  How do you balance the need for intelligent writing and the market’s need for action?

James:  Great question!  I think publishers “push” authors to make their books BIG and BOOMING in the mistaken belief that that’s what readers want.  Readers want great stories, believable characters and novels that say something, mean something, matter.  Yes, we want thrills, but we want them to make us feel something more than the drive to turn pages.  It’s like the difference between a guttural SHOUT and a great kiss:  readers love, remember and seek out a great kiss.  And such stories pay:  Graham Greene wrote dozens of “quiet” novels that are still selling today.

Diana:  Who is your favorite author?  Who are you reading right now?  Do you find you read more in or out of your genre when selecting fiction?

James:  I can never narrow it down to one favorite author, though I think Bruce Springsteen is The Great American Author of my hit high school 49 – 37 years ago generation.  As for authors who create words to be readRay Bradbury, John Burdett, James Cain, Raymond Chandler, Agatha Christie, Sally Denton, Emily Dickinson, Conan Doyle, William Faulkner, Graham Greene, Dashiell Hammett, Elizabeth Hand, Steve Hunter, Craig Johnson, John Le Carre, Harper Lee, Dennis Lehane, John Dos Passos, Maile Meloy (who’s probably the Great American Author of her younger than moi generation), Bobbie Ann MasonDavid Mitchell, George Pelecanos, S. J. Rozan, John Steinbeck, Rex Stout, Jess Walter, Robert Ward, E.B. White, Carlos Ruiz Zafon.  I could drop 47 other names in that alphabetic row.  Right now I’m reading Nathan Englander and Joe Lansdale.  I make it a point not to read the kind of book I’m writing, and while I love what critics call “thrillers” or “crime novels,” I’ve been happily seduced by everything from chick lit to fantasy.  There are just so many great authors out there, and so little time.

Diana:  Mad Dogs takes place in a secret CIA insane asylum, which sounds perfectly reasonable and practical on the page as you describe it.  Is there really such a place in real life?  What other kinds of black sites exist that the public knows little about?

James:  spent years as an investigative reporter chasing whispers that the CIA had a secret insane asylum.  I never found it, so I let the notion flower as fiction.  There are black sites for SIGINT (signals intelligence that targets communications), as well as training sites and way off the books operations not on any federal register.

Diana:  Will they have to kill you if you tell us?  Or now that you’ve told us? How do you balance the fine line between being interesting and not divulging something you may know but that might cause problems for the intelligence community?  Is there such a line?  Do you think Americans should know everything in freedom of the press, or should journalists restrict themselves and under what circumstances?

James:  I’m cautious about what I divulge.  I have a problem with wholesale or frivolous dumping of secrets.  That’s one reason the people who work in our shadows trust me.  There is a line – sometimes fine, sometimes fuzzy, sometimes undeniable – between the rights our Constitution gives writers for freedom of the press and doing damage for no good to our country.  We need to know the why’s and what’s of our government .  We may not need to know the how’s.  There are two questions every writer must ask her or himself when they cover government or even personal secrets:  Who does reporting this hurt?  Who does reporting this help?  When the FBI is trying to stop the Mafia from heroin smuggling, election rigging and prostituting children while the CIA is using the Mafia to assassinate a foreign leader like Castro (happened!), we have both a right and a need to know.  We need to know what our public servants are doing for our democracy to work.

Diana:  Your new book is on Arab Spring.  Can you tell us a little about it and when it will be out?

James:  While I’m calling it an “Arab Spring” novel, 2/3 of the story takes place in Washington, D.C., with the rest in a blended imaginary “Arab” country.  But the story is actually about our new streets of politics everywhere and how a man and a woman risk everything to fight for their personal as well as political integrity. I think of it as a blend of Condor and Graham Greene’s Our Man In Havana.  Sarcasm, suspense, glimpses behind the scenes in D.C. and spy worlds, and a love story unlike any I’ve ever written.  The working title I had is too close to another author’s thriller that just came out – something I bet many people can relate to — so I’m “opening my heart” to whatever title will come from my manuscript.  I’m about halfway done, have shown it to no one, so there’s no pub date yet.  When I get one, I promise to let you know.

Diana:  You have a pretty spectacular family.  Tell us about them.  James can’t stop gushing about them, another one of his endearing traits.

James:  I am in awe of my family.  My wife Bonnie Goldstein, now a blogger for The Washington Post’s “She The People,” has been an internet journalist, a national ABC TV producer, a U.S. Senate Aide, a Private Eye, a coat check girl, a model, and a never went to college hippie who managed a tough bar in Mexico.  My daughter Rachel Grady is an Academy Award nominated documentary director/producer who tackles issues like struggling kids, poverty, our crashing American dream, women’s rights.  My son Nathan Gradyhas published two articles in national venues and is defining himself on the way to being 24.  Rachel’s not yet two years old son Desmond

James as a kid

says “Yeah!” all the time and never stops laughing.   So far, they still let me come to family dinners.

Diana:  The love story in Condor was very poignant.  Why couldn’t your hero and heroine have their happily ever after?  Do you think you might have written it differently today?

James:  Another good question.  I struggled with this.  Didn’t think it was believable for amateur Condor to score a complete “win” against the professionals hunting him, plus I wanted to make the readers feel the real costs of that world.  So he had to lose the girl.

I try to create a story that feels authentic to smart and deserving readers.  And actually, when I got a handle on my sorrow and anger after 9/11, I wrote a novella “re-imagining” how I’d “do” Condor in these times – “condor.net” (click here to read!) — with the roles of women changed and deepened.

Diana:  See I didn’t even know that!  James is always ahead of the curve.  Thanks so much for stopping by today, James, please visit us again soon.

James will be giving a copy of his book Mad Dogsto one lucky commenter below.  So don’t forget to hit the comment button and leave one.  Mad Dogs is a book you don’t want to miss.  Come back on Thursday to see if you’ve won!

BRENDA NOVAK: What I’m Reading

Kiss and Thrill welcomes New York Times and USA Today Bestselling author Brenda Novak!

Brenda Novak is one of my all-time favorite romantic suspense authors. Her books grab you by the throat from page one. Her stories consistently deliver a suspenseful, riveting thrill ride with an extremely emotional love story. Her characters are so genuine, you’ll think about them long after you put the book down.

I wanted to spotlight one of her books as my favorite, but I love them ALL! So, without further delay, I present Brenda Novak.

What I’m reading…

I gained my enthusiasm for reading when I was in the fourth grade and discovered an entire row of classics in the Liberty School library. Previous to this point, I hadn’t liked reading at all. Maybe it was that boring Dick, Jane and Spot stuff, because THE SECRET GARDEN, OLIVER TWIST, REBECCA, JANE EYRE and GONE WITH THE WIND showed me the real possibilities. Knowing my mother would set me to some task if she saw me, I used to hide from her so that I could read one glorious story after another without being disturbed. I’ll never forget how disappointed I was when I finished everything on the classics shelf and started on the next shelf down only to discover that not all books are created equal.

In junior high, I began reading John Jakes and his fabulous revolutionary war series (and then I went on to NORTH AND SOUTH). In high school, I discovered romance and devoured everything by Kathleen Woodiwiss, Jane Austen and Jude Devereaux. I also found my first Sidney Sheldon novel when I was a sophomore, which served as my initiation to mystery and suspense.

Today, I’m an eclectic reader. I love true crime (Ann Rule), straight historicals (Philippa Gregory, Brenda Rickman Vantrease), legal thrillers (John Lescroart, John Grisham), romance (Susan Elizabeth Phillips, Susan Mallery, Jayne Ann Krentz, Jennifer Crusie), mystery (Janet Evanovich, Elizabeth Peters), popular fiction (Elizabeth Gilbert and Jodi Piccoult) and romantic suspense (Karen Rose, Roxanne St. Claire, Allison Brennan, Linda Howard, Sharon Sala and more). The only thing I don’t read is science fiction/fantasy. My reading “diet” is so varied that it’s difficult to restrict a list of favorites to any one genre, but here are a few books I’m either reading or have read recently:

1. KILL FOR ME by M. William Phelps. This is a true crime book I picked up at Bouchercon last year and am only now getting to. It’s about a man who had someone murder a woman about to testify against him in a rape case. I have yet to find out who actually committed the deed, but I’m hoping the guilty party pays for their crime. I always find it fascinating to read about how criminal cases really go. It certainly isn’t like the movies. It’s actually a bit depressing. The criminal has everything stacked in his favor. Very sad/difficult for the victim.

2. FALL FROM PRIDE by Karen Harper. I’ve been hearing that Amish romances are the new hot thing so I wanted to try one. After reading CHILL FACTOR by Sandra Brown (excellent plotting and interesting characters and situations) and KILL FOR ME (the true crime book above), this story is VERY tame, but it’s supposed to be.

3. A WALK ACROSS THE SUN by Corban Addison. This book is by a debut author, an attorney down south. It was recommended to me by my agent, and I really enjoyed it. It deals with the international sex trade as seen through the eyes of two orphaned sisters.

4. ADRENALIN by Jeff Abbott. Abbot has a lean writing style, engaging characters and a very quick pace. I’m only one-third in but definitely plan to finish.

5. THE GIRL WHO DISAPPEARED TWICE. Just started a mini-book club with a friend who wanted to bone up on thrillers. He suggested this book be first up, since we both owned it. Again, I’ve just begun, but I’ve been promised that I will love the story. Can’t wait to see for myself….

New York Times & USA Today Bestselling Author Brenda Novak has a brand new small-town contemporary series starting in 2012. Come meet the long-time friends who have made Whiskey Creek the “Heart of Gold Country,” with WHEN LIGHTNING STRIKES, to be released in September. Also, don’t miss her latest romantic suspense trilogy available now–INSIDE, IN SECONDS, & IN CLOSE. Brenda is a three-time Rita nominee. Her books have won many awards, including the National Reader’s Choice, the Bookseller’s Best, the Book Buyer’s Best, the Holt Medallion and many others. She also runs an annual on-line auction for diabetes research every May at www.brendanovak.com. To date, she’s raised over $1.3 million. Brenda considers herself lucky to be a mother of five and married to the love of her life. 

Available Now!

Available Now!

Do any of you have questions, comments or want to share your favorite Brenda Novak novel with the rest of us? 

***All commenters with a U.S. mailing address are eligible for the Thurday, 12/8 drawing!  Brenda is giving away one copy of each of the following: The Perfect Couple, The Perfect Liar, and The Perfect Murder.  Check back to see if you’re the winner!

BRENDA NOVAK is here: Tuesday, December 6th!

Kiss and Thrill is honored to host New York Times and USA Today Bestselling author Brenda Novak!

Stop by Tuesday, December 6th for a chance to meet Brenda, ask her questions and hopefully win one of her books:

The Perfect Couple

The Perfect Liar

The Perfect Murder

Drawing for the prizes will be held Thursday, December 8th. Brenda will be hosted by Lena Diaz (that’s her captivating novel on the right!–>)

(If I were you I’d click the upper right corner and sign up to receive our blog notifications. We have a HUGE line up of terrific authors!)

Have a great weekend, everybody. Thanks for making our first week so special!

Question of the Day: Which Romantic Suspense Author would YOU like to see Guest Blog here?

%d bloggers like this: