Someone is assassinating CIA field officers and Jake Keller's name is next on the list in the latest thrilling novel from the author Publishers Weekly calls "a fresh voice in the crowded spy thriller field." Jake doesn't know who is trying to kill him and he doesn't know why. Still, it's a threat he can't ignore. When his small plane crashes in the Alps, Jake is the only survivor. A rescue helicopter soon arrives, but the men inside are not there to save anyone. They are determined to complete the murderous job they started. Jake escapes from the mountainside deathtrap, but it won't be the only attempt on his life. If he's to have any chance at surviving, he'll have to find out who's behind the killings. But the circle of people Jake can trust is distressingly small as he suspects that someone inside the Agency is feeding his every move to the very people who are trying to end his life. Jake's quest takes him to the candle-lit cathedrals of Paris and the rain-slicked streets of London. He makes contact with old friends and new enemies along the way—but his true nemesis may be closer than he imagines.
The New York Times and USA Today bestselling author of The Huntress and The Alice Network returns with another heart-stopping World War II story of three female code breakers at Bletchley Park and the spy they must root out after the war is over.
1940. As England prepares to fight the Nazis, three very different women answer the call to mysterious country estate Bletchley Park, where the best minds in Britain train to break German military codes. Vivacious debutante Osla is the girl who has everything—beauty, wealth, and the dashing Prince Philip of Greece sending her roses—but she burns to prove herself as more than a society girl, and puts her fluent German to use as a translator of decoded enemy secrets. Imperious self-made Mab, product of east-end London poverty, works the legendary codebreaking machines as she conceals old wounds and looks for a socially advantageous husband. Both Osla and Mab are quick to see the potential in local village spinster Beth, whose shyness conceals a brilliant facility with puzzles, and soon Beth spreads her wings as one of the Park’s few female cryptanalysts. But war, loss, and the impossible pressure of secrecy will tear the three apart.
1947. As the royal wedding of Princess Elizabeth and Prince Philip whips post-war Britain into a fever, three friends-turned-enemies are reunited by a mysterious encrypted letter–the key to which lies buried in the long-ago betrayal that destroyed their friendship and left one of them confined to an asylum. A mysterious traitor has emerged from the shadows of their Bletchley Park past, and now Osla, Mab, and Beth must resurrect their old alliance and crack one last code together. But each petal they remove from the rose code brings danger–and their true enemy–close
Interview with Author Kate Quinn
1. Was The Rose Code inspired by The Huntress, or The Alice Network?
Neither, really. Bletchley Park has been on my radar for a long time…about 4 years ago I saw an article about it and for some reason it sparked the notion of “Hmm, I wonder if I could set a novel there…”
- What inspired you to tell the story of three female code breakers of Bletchley Park?
Most of the books I’d read about BP were about the male codebreakers, yet women were by far the majority of the workforce by the end. I wanted to explore a story about the ladies instead!
- Does Osla, Mab, and Beth undergo a character arc?
They all do. Osla is struggling to prove herself as more than just a pretty debutante, and struggling to find a home and family–a place she belongs. Mab is struggling to find security, not just for herself but for her little sister. Beth is struggling to get out from behind her domineering mother’s shadow. By the end they’ve all found answers to these questions, though of course they’ve found more questions along the way!
- What makes them great codebreakers?
Beth–a cryptanalyst–has the kind of brain that sees and rearranges patterns, which is what makes her so good at wedging a foot in the door of seeming impenetrable code. Osla is fluent in German, which makes her a terrific translator of decoded Axis traffic. Mab has wonderful powers of concentration and attention to detail, which makes her great at operating and running the tricky bombe machines that help break ciphers.
- How much did you have to research codebreaking, or WWII Cryptography?
So much! I must have gone through hundreds of books, articles, Youtube videos, and more in the writing of this book–and I went to Bletchley Park as well. It’s a terrific historic site and visitors center now.
- What are some interesting facts about codebreaking that aren’t in the book?
Ian Fleming–creator of James Bond–was in and out of Bletchley Park, and I’d have loved to include him as a character, but there wasn’t room.
- If you had a choice to be Osla, Mab, or Beth, who would you be and why?
I’d love to have Beth’s brain. I don’t think I’d be a good cryptanalyst myself, so it would be wonderful to see it from her eyes.
- Do you speak German, or did you have to learn it for the book?
I speak opera German, which isn’t very useful for research! This book require much in foreign languages as far as research went, but when it did, I relied on online translation programs and some very helpful multi-lingual friends to aid in translating things.
- Are there any thematic elements of having three female protagonists?
They all experience different sides of what it is to be female in a workplace run by men. Overall Bletchley Park was a much more egalitarian environment–women found they were able to make their voices heard there in a way that didn’t happen as often in outside workplaces–but there were still difficulties.
- Are the three characters based upon real people or completely fictional?
Mab is fictional; Beth is a fictional composite of two real women who worked at Bletchley Park; Osla is a lightly fictionalized version of Osla Benning who was a Hut 4 translator and really did date Prince Philip through much of the war.
- I read that 75% of the codebreakers were women. Why was there such a large percentage of females?
Probably because so many men were joining the military and going off to fight–women were stepping into the shoes they left behind in the workplace.
- Is the title The Rose Code based upon real life events?
No, that’s my invention. Though there were ciphers at Bletchley Park named after birds, colors, animals…and even flowers!
- Author Fiona Davis Dubbed you “The reigning Queen of historical fiction.” What makes you so passionate about history?
My mother was a librarian and a history buff–her degree was in ancient & medieval history–so those were the stories I was hearing from a young age. The past always fascinated me, so that’s where I gravitated when it came time to tell stories of my own.
- Have you seen any good movies about the codebreakers?
The Imitation Game (Benedict Cumberbatch), Enigma (Kate Winslet, Dougray Scott, Nikolaj Coster-Waldau), and the Bletchley Circle TV series!
Jack Ryan, Jr., will do anything for a friend, but this favor will be paid for in blood in the latest electric entry in the #1 New York Times bestselling series.
Jack Ryan Jr would do anything for Ding Chavez. That’s why Jack is currently sitting in an open air market in Israel helping a CIA team with a simple job. The man running the mission, Peter Beltz, is an old friend from Ding’s army days. Ding hadn’t seen his friend since Peter’s transfer to the CIA eighteen months prior and intended to use the assignment to reconnect. Unfortunately, Ding had to cancel at the last minute and asked Jack to take his place. It’s a cushy assignment–an all expense paid trip to Israel in exchange for a couple hours of easy work, but Jack could use the downtime after his last operation.
Jack is here merely as an observer, but when he hastens to help a woman and her young son, he finds himself the target of trained killers. Alone and outgunned Jack will have to use all his skills to protect the life of the child.
A few quick questions with author Don Bentley
1. Did you name the book Target Acquired after you wrote it, or did you already have it in mind based off an idea beforehand?
Since it’s a Tom Clancy book and not my series, the publisher gave me a list of names they’d already preselected. I voted for Target Acquired and that’s what they went with.
2. I’ve heard you speak about the difference in writing the point of view for Jack Ryan Jr. vs. the Matt Drake series. How was it getting to know Jack Ryan Jr. as a character?
Getting to know Jack Jr. was a ton of fun. I tried to peel back his a character in a way that was new and maybe hadn’t been done quite the same way before. You’ll have to let me know how I did!
3. What do you love most about the Tom Clancy books?
I love how Tom introduced you to military tech in a way that made you feel as if you were strapped into the F-14 right beside the pilot. He truly was one of the greats, and I would have loved to have had the opportunity to meet him.
Breathe… if you dare.
English countryside, 1958. The idyllic village of Olney St. Mary has stood in its peaceful location for over 900 years.
Until one day, when two teenage boys are struck by a mysterious illness. The newly arrived Doctor Hilary Newton suspects a common flu to be the cause of their malady. Before long, the doctor and residents of Olney St. Mary are plunged into a nightmare, as the disease ravages the local population. Despite the doctors employing the latest medicine available, the death toll keeps rising.
Someone in the village knows the reason behind the pestilence that has struck at the heart of the village, but can the medics learn the truth before it’s too late, or will they join the growing list of names that appear on the death roll in Olney St. Mary?
- Describe your experience dreaming fueling an idea for a story.
This began a few years ago. I simply woke up one morning and turned to my wife Juliet, and said, “I just dreamed a great plot for my next book.” I dreamed about the story in general, the opening, and how it would end. I decided to give it a go and once I started working on the book, the characters kind of developed a life of their own and they drove the story forward as I typed each chapter. I made a few changes to the original dream version of the story simply to add areas of drama and tension to the basic premise. When I completed the book, and read it through before went to my editor I was surprised at how closely the finished article coincided with something that came to me in my sleep. That book was A Mersey Killing, http://getbook.at/Mersey Killing which went on to become an Amazon #1 bestseller and my publisher loved it so much they asked me if I could develop the book into a series. That was the birth of my successful Mersey Mystery series and I’m currently working on the 9th book in the series.
- Which of your books/series have been done this way?
Once I learned to trust my ability to dream storylines and more importantly to retain them when I woke up, (sometimes in the early hours of the morning), I can honestly say that at least four more of the books in the series, A Mersey Maiden, A Mersey Mariner, A Very Mersey Murder, and The Mersey Monastery Murders can be attributed in some way to my dreams.
- How do you determine if the idea is viable enough to commit an entire novel?
Good question. The only way I can make that determination is by starting the process of writing the book. If I manage to get the first three or four chapters written and I’m confident that I can go forward with the concept, I will keep going until the book is completed. If I begin a book and immediately find myself struggling with the story or the continuity of the tale, I will stop writing put it into my pending file and leave it for another time, in case it eventually adds up in my mind and I’m able to return to it and complete the project.
- How long does it typically take for you to write a book?
One of my Mersey Mystery series will typically take between 6 months to a year to complete. The includes the research, writing and all checks and edits prior to submitting to my publisher.
- Describe your creative process for fleshing out an idea once it’s there.
As I said earlier my books are heavily character-driven, and the central characters of my series have grown and developed as the series has progressed, so I find those characters almost have a life of their own in my mind. So, I can create, a storyline and situations within that story, and ‘allow’ my characters to direct the way they will react to any given circumstances. It’s really a lot of fun, letting those fictional characters take over my thoughts so far, I haven’t been disappointed with the results.
- Do you have a routine when it comes to editing your books?
I have a great editor, and together we make a good team. Over the years we’ve developed a routine where, as I write, I will send one or two chapters at a time to her and she immediately checks and edits the work. Once I have agreed and made any changes those chapters go into a separate document which will form the final book. When completed, the finished book then undergoes a final edit which includes a line by line spelling and grammar check.
- Do you utilize beta readers?
Before I found my editor I used to have a small team of Beta readers but nowadays I find them unnecessary and generally just use one of them who I retained as a final ‘fail safe’ for checking the manuscript.
- How much are you influenced by feedback by others during the process?
My wife is one of my fiercest critics and she reads and comments on my work as the book progresses. The only other feedback I take notice of is that of my editor, researcher and sole Beta reader.
- How do you perform research for your books?
Most of my books contain some references to real events in the past so I spend a lot of time involved in historical research to ensure that any references to true events in the past are as accurate as possible.
I also have a terrific researcher, a lady called Debbie Poole, who lives in Liverpool. As my Mersey Mystery books are set in and around that city, it’s important that any and all references to places on the city are accurate and reliable. Nowadays, I live in Yorkshire and the Liverpool of my youth really has changed so much that my own memories of streets, buildings and roads are just not up to date, so Debbie’s knowledge is of vital importance to the books.
I can give you a good example of her contributions to the books. When I was working on Last Train to Lime Street, I needed to find a suitable piece of railway track, close to a road bridge, which could be used as a ‘body dump’ site. Debbie spent days driving around Liverpool, stopping the car, peering over the edges of various Bridges, looking for a suitable site, one which had to have hedges and trees close to the tracks. She found the perfect location which I used in the book. We had a laugh at the time wondering how she would reply if a police officer followed and approached her and asked her why she was looking over the parapets of various bridges. We could just imagine his reaction if she replied in all honesty, “Oh, I’m just driving around looking for a suitable body dump site!” She’s so committed to the books, that I simply couldn’t manage without her expertise.
- What kind of advice would give to new aspiring authors?
I’ve been asked that question many times. I think the best advice I can give is first of all, read, read and read some more. When asked how to be a good writer that was exactly what Charles Dickens replied. So yes, read as much as possible, your favourite authors if possible and try to learn from them in terms of writing styles, sentence construction etc.
When you’ve actually written a book, if it’s good enough a publisher will eventually show an interest, but expect to receive a few rejections once you start submitting the work to publishers. It happens to the best authors, treat rejections as an occupational hazard. It might take a while but if you’re confident you have a good product, don’t lose faith and maintain your self-belief. If it’s good enough, you will eventually find a publisher. Don’t give up and don’t be afraid of occasional harsh criticism. If it’s constructive then it can be helpful.
- What are you currently working on?
I’m currently working on the ninth book in my Mersey Mystery series, The Mersey Ferry Murders. Convicted rapist/murderer Howard Blake has died in prison. Now someone appears to be viciously killing the members of the jury that convicted him of the crimes, to which he always pleaded he was innocent of committing. Detective Inspector Andy Ross leads his Specialist Murder Investigation Team in search of the unknown killer, as the body count grows!
A Short Biography
Luci de Foix is an archeologist and artifact expert who travels extensively to country’s attempt to save their priceless treasures. On a trip to Greece, she discovers a clay shard with writings from an ancient society that disappeared during an earthquake on their island of Helike. When her best friend and adopted sister, Sarah, is kidnapped by a ruthless Russian oligarch determined to find the legendary treasure of Helike, they struggle to survive against terrifying odds, only to discover a secret that governments will kill for…even her own.
Linda L. Kane
What was your path to becoming a writer?
As a kid, I grew up in Inglewood, California, my mom worked as a waitress, my dad had left and we were very poor, so poor that the leftovers from others at the restaurant were given to us for food. It was a nice restaurant so we really did get pretty terrific food. This left me with my mom gone, hours to write. I was left alone most nights and for me, writing became an escape. I could be anyone, a wealthy person, an artist, or an actress. It was all in my imagination and I had big dreams.
Who has informed your writing the most over the years?
As a child, I read everything that my school library had in biographies. Women that were courageous, women of science, women who made a difference in other’s lives.
Can you tell us a little about archeologist Luci De Foix?
Luci de Foix was placed in an orphanage after her parent’s death. Little did she know that there was a group of men, The Order, that had been watching her family for hundreds of years, waiting for the opportunity to acquire a very important codex.
What is the relationship like between Luci and Sarah?
Luci met Sarah at the orphanage, two lonely little girls who found one another, helped each other, protected one another. Luci’s grandparents who lived in France, finally found Luci and came to take her home. They saw the friendship between Luci and Sarah and didn’t want to tear them away from each other, after many months, Sarah was adopted and came to live with Luci and her grandparents
What are they up against in Death Is an Illusion?
Sarah became an expert in computer science and was on a scientific expedition in Greece where the group came across evidence of an island that had long been forgotten, Helike. Some of the people survived and made they’re way across oceans to South America carrying with them a very special plant that could heal the sick forever. Many people that were on that expedition told others, namely the Russians who were out to acquire that plant. Sarah flew home to have Luci come with her to Greece and read shards of pottery pinpointing the location of the lost tribe of the Helike’s.
What are some interesting facts you discovered in your research?
Something I discovered in a BBC magazine was that there was an island, Helike that was destroyed by a volcano and a tsunami. Aristotle believed that this was Atlantis. Something that all of us know is that there are many plants in S America with healing properties, the land is being destroyed by loggers and others. Soon there will be no plants to help us as a people.
Have you ever been to Greece?
I’ve never been to Greece, had a missed opportunity on a sailboat. Maybe one day, I’d like to see what they’ve found of Helike.
What’s next for you?
A continuation of the adventures of Luci de Foix. I wrote her first book, The Black Madonna: A Popes Deadly Obsession, and I would like her and her friends to find the book John Dees was writing about Angels. His delving into alchemy and gold. That should be a fun mix.
About L Lee Kane
An exquisitely written and nuanced biography of an exceptional individual and writer who has created the # 1 international bestselling hero Jack Reacher, revered by dedicated and loyal readers worldwide.
Lee Child has a great public persona: he is gracious and generous with readers and fans. But Jim Grant is a reticent and very private man.
This rags-to-riches literary and social biography is based principally on disarmingly frank personal conversations and correspondence with the author since 2016 and privileged access to archival materials. It consists almost entirely of original material, and is the nearest thing the world is likely to get to the autobiography he does not intend to write.
There are a handful of great Lee Child/Reacher stories that have been recycled over and over again. They are so good that no one has bothered to look beyond them. This book revisits (and sometimes revises) those irresistible stories, but goes back further and digs deeper. The emphasis on chronology, accuracy and specificity is unprecedented.
The Lee Child origin myth is much loved. But mostly it sees him springing fully formed from the brow of Granada Television. There are glancing references to Aston Villa and the schoolyard, but no one has examined the social and historical detail or looked closely at where Lee really came from: the people, places and period.
This is the first time someone has described the Lee Child arc: from peaceful obscurity in the Yorkshire Dales and Upstate New York to cult figure, no. 1 in America, rock star, celebrity and publishing institution through to backlash, the changing zeitgeist, and intimations of retirement. The analysis of the emotional power and significance of Lee’s work in the final chapters—the themes of happiness, addiction, dependency, loneliness, and existential absurdity—and the first-hand retrospective accounts of his life and second-act career are all exclusive to this definitive biography.
Mystery Thriller Week – Benjamin Thomas
Heather Martin – The Reacher Guy
- How did you develop a love for reading?
Family. I was lucky. I clearly remember my father reading aloud to me at bedtime: The Wind in the Willows, The Magic Pudding, The Way of the Whirlwind, the highly coloured bush poetry of Henry Lawson. He sang a lot of songs to me, too, which are little stories in themselves. His parents had a houseful of books, including all the popular series of the day: the Famous Five, the Secret Seven, My Naughty Little Sister, What Katy Did, Anne of Green Gables. I would sit on the floor with our dog, reading, or take a book and disappear up the mulberry tree. This was in West Australia, not England where I live now!
- What was your first impression of Lee Child after reading his books for the first time?
I had no impression of Lee Child after reading his books for the first time. I gave the writer no thought at all. It was Reacher who filled my mind. When I finished one Reacher book, all I thought about was where I was going to find the next one. Which Lee would entirely approve of. I only really started to think about the writer after I met the man. It was only then that my attention was drawn explicitly to the skill of his writing. But I suspect my willingness to submit to the power of the story without stopping to think where it came from (this despite my professional background in literary criticism) is itself testament to that skill. Very quickly, however, the writer became even more interesting to me than his creation – as the origin of Reacher, because he contained Reacher within him, but also in many ways exceeded him.
- What fascinates you about why people love telling and hearing stories?
I notice you’ve adopted Lee’s preferred terminology, of ‘telling’ and ‘hearing’, which emphasises the aural, which reminds us that in one form or other storytelling goes right back to the beginning of human history, back before the invention of writing. I find his view compelling: that stories were, and remain, important because they encourage, embolden and empower us, by allowing us to see the world in new ways and glimpse new possibilities – different plot lines and alternative endings, if you like. An effective story takes us out of ourselves for the duration of our reading – like a song does, but for longer – while also inviting an intense connection, through empathy or identification, with the characters, and beyond them, even if we don’t realise it, the writer. For better or worse, we escape our own lives and live instead in the world of the book.
- What do you appreciate about the way Lee Child tells a story?
Another big question! Presumably the fact that it feels like someone’s ‘telling’ me the story! What is commonly referred to as narrative ‘voice’. His voice has an effortless quality to it, which is down to his acute sense of rhythm and timing. But the appearance of effortlessness tends to be an effect of great artistry – the accomplishment of someone who is master of his craft. And mixed in with those musical qualities you have the sweeping historical vision, the unique mix of humour and pathos, and plenty of painterly and poetic touches too, especially in the depiction of weather and the evocation of landscape. I’m always surprised by the range and rhetoric of Lee’s discourse, and his idiosyncratic turn of phrase in both speech and writing. Contrary to popular opinion, I think his voice, while very distinctive, is almost impossible to imitate without lapsing into parody.
- What was your initial reaction when Lee Child asked you to write his biography?
It wasn’t really like that. He never outright asked me. It was more an agreement we reached over the course of a long conversation. Whenever we met, which at first was a purely social thing, he would tell me stories about his life growing up in the Midlands, which was very different to mine growing up on the west coast of Australia. It was the same when we corresponded. I loved those stories in miniature, that teased and tantalised and left me wanting more. I guess I was always asking questions, with one question leading inexorably to the next, a form of research that was entirely organic, but when the idea of a biography took hold it proved impossible to shake off. It felt to me like the book I was meant to write, and I think Lee, in his empathetic way, sensed that too. But to be given formal permission to go ahead? That was a thrilling moment, and that’s for damn sure!
- What was it like working with him?
Pure unalloyed pleasure. Because of the situation I’ve just described – the ongoing conversation. And we got to meet up in all sorts of places, many of them new to me. I’d try to catch him on the wing in the UK whenever I could, and then I had the great good fortune of spending a year in New York, which made it easier to fit in with his crazy schedule. It was there I did most of the writing, and had the chance to look through family photos, which was so illuminating. He was very generous with his time, and remarkably non-interventionist. Maybe I was just good at self-censorship, but despite this being an authorised biography there were very few things he asked me not to write. He never tried to tell me how to do things, but simply encouraged me to follow my own storytelling instinct. So yes, emboldening and empowering, without a doubt!
- What were some of the challenges of writing?
The biggest challenge was structure. I wanted to tell the story in a broadly chronological way (and I did), but there was no escaping Reacher from page one. It was immediately obvious that anyone reading the book would already know that Lee Child was the author of a bestselling series, so to wait until his thirty-ninth year before introducing Reacher would be absurd. Instead I found myself telling the stories of Lee Child, Jack Reacher and Jim Grant (who created them both) all at once. But I tried not to overthink it. I just let Reacher pop up where the narrative journey took him, as is the case in the novels. And I conceived of each chapter as a self-contained story, governed by a single moment or idea or image, which I think helps the reader too. It’s a big book, but that approach makes it easy to dip in and out. If you were to ask Lee the same question, he would say the biggest problem was that of memory – how individual it is, and how different people often have differing recollections of the same event.
- After writing his biography, how has your view of storytelling, the works of Lee Child, and his craft changed?
Though all the words remain exactly the same, his books resonate with me now on a more personal level. And even as he has so spectacularly escaped his origins, as was always his wish, I see that his loyalty to the Midlands remains as fierce as ever. We’ve had some fascinating conversations since The Reacher Guy was published at the end of September, mostly in the context of all the brilliant digital festivals we’ve done in lieu of our planned live events (postponed, circumstances permitting, to next year). Reading the story of his own life has given even Lee new perspective on it, and brought certain moments and experiences more sharply into focus. At the same time, we’ve both become more conscious of the overlap between fiction and creative non-fiction – two variations on the storytelling theme.
About Heather Martin
An insomnia pandemic is sweeping the globe, leaving people unable to function and society on the brink of collapse…
Dr. Cooper Delaney believes he has the answer: Noctural, a new sleep-aid—one with absolutely no side-effects—which in early testing shows 100% effectiveness.
The only problem is, it doesn’t work. With no warning. No explanation.
Unable to accept the drug’s inexplicable failure and unwilling to concede to the competition, lines are crossed, ethical boundaries are pushed to the breaking point, and disturbing realizations come to light that could completely unravel civilization as we know it… and throw into question humanity’s place in the universe.
A jetset medical thriller meets sci-fi adventure with an unforgettable cast of characters, Percivious Insomnia presents an alternate history so compelling that it could possibly be true. The first book in the Percivious Trilogy from husband-wife author duo JJ Cook & AJ Cook, MD, Percivious Insomnia sets a unique and original course for fiction of the future, and paints a timely, prescient portrait of today’s globalized society… and what may exist beyond the realm of our current understanding.
J.J. Cook & A.J. Cook
Behind the plot of Percivious Insomnia was a singular idea or more specifically a question. What would happen if someone or something could exploit your sleep hours for their own benefit? This question blossomed in a separate direction for each of us, likely from the beginning. For AJ Cook, the story was based in science fiction and for JJ Cook it involved exploring an idea never considered before and how it would impact people individually and society as a whole. In the first chapter the reader meets Dr. Cooper Delaney, a talented star at a leading pharmaceutical company. His place at the beginning of the novel is critical and his role is what fostered our first discussions about the storyline. What was at first a collection of ideas captured on paper, eventually became sentences, which were then fashioned into paragraphs, chapters and finally the novel itself.
Medical research is at the heart of the novel. AJ Cook’s expertise brought plausible medical science to life in what would otherwise be a story of strictly fiction. Both of us are life-long learners, always curious about the why behind the what, and the depth of the characters echoes this sentiment throughout this first book in the trilogy. Elements of science were added specifically to provide believable explanations for key elements such as the description of our ancient humanoid cousins as well as the plateau of our own evolution referred to as human pinnacle theory in the novel. As the story unfolded, the science gathered through our research continually lead and supported the story to the point where it became eerie as we found ourselves launching a novel about a pandemic in the midst of a real one.
Writing with a spouse, quite literally, is a double-edged sword; pushing for the very best from each other and simultaneously disagreeing about major facets of the plot certainly make for an interesting dialogue on many nights. What keeps us balanced is a genuine love for this story, the anticipation of where it will lead next and the exhilaration we both experience when making breakthroughs with the plot, the characters and the marriage of science and fiction. Nothing is more rewarding than creating paragraphs that scream to be believed despite not being true. Authoring something that could be possible is second only to writing those few sentences that refuse to be forgotten. The ones that stay in your head long after you have finished reading them, or writing them in our case. It is important to us both that we keep up the momentum in this next novel, the second in the trilogy, Percivious Origins. We want the reader to fall in love with a new cast of characters, a new setting and quite literally a new world that will be required to reach the depths of this story. The base line of the first novel was that question we mentioned – what if someone or something could exploit our sleep hours? In the second novel, the entire premise revolves around the exploitation of a prehistoric plant and how it changed the course history and the destiny of our ancient humanoid cousins. Percivious Origins will amplify our place within the environment and the importance of respect and stability between Homosapiens and nature.
The overarching theme of the trilogy remains intact, the definition of Percivious – the ultimate in altruism. Self-sacrifice in order to benefit others with no regard to reward or reciprocity. This is the soul of all three novels and is the true reason we as a couple are so dedicated and passionate about this adventure – about writing together. We quite literally could not have penned this novel without one another. Finishing each other’s thoughts and sentences have quite literally become, in our case – not only possible…but a dream come true.
About Audiobook #1
Author: A.J. Rivers
Narrator: Claire Duncan
Length: 7 hours 32 minutes
Publisher: Altered Path⎮2020
Series: Emma Griffin FBI, Book 1
Release date: Aug. 15, 2020
When Emma finds a dead body on her porch with her name written on the dead man’s hand, she uncovers a sinister clue to the mystery that has haunted her since childhood.
FBI Agent Emma Griffin is sent undercover to the small sleepy town of Feathered Nest to uncover the truth behind the strings of disappearances that has left the town terrified.
To Emma, there is nothing that can lay buried forever. Even though her own childhood has been plagued by deaths and disappearances. Her mother’s death, her father’s disappearance, and her boyfriend’s disappearance. The only cases that she hasn’t solved. Her obsession with finding out the truth behind her past was what led her to join the FBI.
Now, she must face what may be her biggest case. In cabin 13, there lies an uneasy feeling. The feeling of her movements being watched. When a knock on her door revealed a body on her porch and her name written on a piece of paper in the dead man’s hand. Suddenly, her worlds collide.
With the past still haunting her, Emma must fight past her own demons to stop the body count from rising.
The woods have secrets. And this idyllic town has dark and murderous ones. Either, she reveals them or risk them claiming her, too.
In Feathered Nest, nothing is what it seems.
The girl in cabin 13 is about to find out that the dead may have secrets of their own.
Buy Links for Audiobook #1
Buy on Audible
I’m always a sucker for FBI books. Insert The Girl in Cabin 13! It’s a good mystery with great suspense that’ll keep you turning the pages to find out what happens next. Told in first person point of view, author A.J. Rivers takes you deep into the mindset of embattled FBI Agent Emma Griffin. Good plot, characters that jump off the page, and a narrator that delivers a solid audiobook. Recommended!
How did you celebrate after finishing this novel?
I am a major coffee lover, so I really enjoy celebrating wrapping up a book by getting out of my writing room and relaxing with a good cup of flavored coffee. I drink my coffee black all the time, and I’m usually drinking very dark, robust blends. My favorite is actually called Death Wish. So when it’s time to relax and “indulge” a little, it’s with a cup of still black, but flavored coffee. My current choice is S’mores, but we’re getting close to pumpkin season. Since the end of books is always the most intense when it comes to writing, I also love to let off steam when I’m done by bringing my dog Daisy out for a long walk and enjoying the fresh air.
In your opinion, what are the pros and cons of writing a stand-alone novel vs. writing a series?
There is definitely a time and place for both. A stand-alone novel is a great opportunity to tell one focused, explosive story that doesn’t have to rely on any previous world-building or leave room for other books. It’s a shooting star situation. One bright moment that is contained within itself. Stand-alone is also great for much longer works. A series is all about creating a world for readers to live in. They get to know the characters like friends and family, and go on these adventures with them. It’s a blast to be able to revisit the same places, get to know the people, businesses, and little quirks, and keep up with them as time passes. It makes you want to keep coming back, so you keep reading the books. A series lets you explore big story arcs and delve deeper into the characters. But it also requires organization and attention to detail. You have to be able to come up with layered people and realistic places that readers will care about, as well as complex stories that can unfold a little at a time.
What’s your favorite:
I don’t have one set favorite, but I love Indian food. Chana masala is my go-to. I am always in the mood for raw vegetables or fruit salad.
Thriller, by Michael Jackson.
Dream Boy, by Jim Grimsley
- Television show
Murder investigation shows, Matlock, Murder, She Wrote, Golden Girls, and in the spirit of full disclosure, my guilty pleasure shows include Catfish and anything having to do with Halloween through holiday cooking or baking
The Ghost and Mr. Chicken, Dirty Dancing, Ghostbusters, Nightmare Before Christmas
Beatles. Michael Jackson is my favorite musician, I love girl groups from the 50s and 60s, disco, and 80s music
- Sports team
Are any of those things referenced in appearance in your work?
All the time. Because I have some pretty obscure tastes in some ways, I sometimes find myself having my characters reference things or make jokes and cultural references I then wonder if the readers will even get, so I have to go back and replace them with something easier to recognize. Especially when it comes to music and movies. I’m not a huge movie person and the ones I particularly love are pretty old school, so when I whip out references to Luther Heggs, I have to remind myself that probably isn’t going to ring a ton of bells.
What bits of advice would you give to aspiring authors?
I’ll repeat the same thing that’s been said over and over, but that is so true. Write. Write. Write. Write all the time. Don’t just rely on your computer. Bring a notebook and pen around with you and write things down. You never know when you’re going to hear a phrase that inspires you, or get an idea, or even just hear a name that you like. Write it down. I also highly recommend talking through dialogue out loud. It can feel awkward at first, but the natural, believable conversations and thoughts are key to really enjoyable books. They make the characters more relatable and the action smoother. The best way to make that happen is to carry on the conversation. If you have a voice-to-text program on your computer, put it on and just talk through the conversation like you are the characters. Don’t worry about the spelling, punctuation, or accuracy at this point. Just talk it through as naturally as you can and let it come out. You can then take what you said and write it out in your draft with proper tags and action.
I’d also tell aspiring authors to take their writing seriously. There can be a lot of pressure to only seeing writing as art and something that can only be done in the right mood or situation. There is definitely art to good writing and crafting a book, and it’s always easier when the mood and inspiration are right, but if you are going to consistently create strong, enjoyable books, you have to see it as work. You have to work hard, get the words out even when they aren’t flowing smoothly, and be willing to edit mercilessly. The best advice I ever got was from my college professor who told me to kill my darlings. You have to be willing to not see every word you write as precious, but also fight for your voice and your vision when it’s important.
About the Author: A.J. Rivers
A.J. Rivers loves all things mystery and thriller. Growing up in a sleepy small town, A.J. spent her days enthralled in crime solving novels and movies. She started creating stories at a young age to escape and create adventures for herself. As a child she dreamed of solving crimes and becoming a crime fighter. She dreamed of being as great as her favorite crime solving character Sherlock Holmes. While in college she realized that leading a crime fighting life might be more gruesome than she could stomach. She decided that the best course of action would be to fuse her love of writing with her love of thrilling mysteries together.
She finds inspiration from researching true crimes and is passionate about writing suspenseful novels with crazy twists. Twists that you’ll never see coming. The inspiration for her first novel came when she read a news article about a missing young woman in a small town that was never found. Her question on who, what, and why brought her to her journal to discovering the dark twisted story behind the disappearance and to seek justice for the victim through her writing.
Her thriller novels have elements of mystery, suspense, and romance.
When she’s not absorbed in a novel or working on her next thriller mystery, her favorite past time is spent with her husky. She finds great inspiration while going on hikes with her dog.
About the Narrator: Claire Duncan
Claire Duncan is a multi-award winning actress living in NYC. She has performed Off-Broadway, regionally, and in national tours, and appeared in the Drama Desk nominated revival of The Threepenny Opera. She has played the lead in a dozen films, and received a Best Actress Award for her work as Rosetta in the dark comedy Rosetta’s Blues, which debuted at Cannes. As a singer, she had the honor of performing at Carnegie Hall and Lincoln Center, and toured the country as a travel host with Visit The USA.
Claire’s broad career has shaped her into an exceptional and flexible voice artist. You can hear her on Nickelodeon and Comedy Central, in hundreds of national commercials, and in over thirty audiobooks.
“Claire Duncan was a dynamo” – New York Stage Review
“Simply side-splitting… a terrific comedic actress” – Show Business Weekly
Proud member of SAG-AFTRA and AEA.
Stefano Caruso always does things the right way. With a grandfather who was forced to flee the venal Sicilian mafia and start life anew in America, Stefano now heads the corporation his father and grandfather built. Handsome and successful, he’s on top of the world…until one day he has an unexpected visitor and gets shocking news. Stefano is being cheated and lied to, and the company his family built from the ground up is in mortal jeopardy. That’s when Benito Cuggi, the face of the modern-day mafia, comes into his life. Cuggi appears to live by a strict code of morals that the laws of Western society cannot enforce. Loyalty and trust are rewarded, while betrayal is punished. Now Stefano faces a difficult choice. Can he ally himself with what he’s been taught to hate and fear? Or should he let what generations of his family built be stolen out from under him?
Fraught with moral complexity, Siracusa is a fast-paced, exciting crime thriller that pits good against evil and righteousness versus deception, while asking whether good men should sometimes do bad things to punish evil….
The Don of Siracusa Book Trailer
About the Author
Sean Rea studied at Wilfrid Laurier University in Waterloo, Ontario, majoring in communications and minoring in management. He has travelled much of America and nearly all of Italy. Like his protagonist, Stefano, from a young age Sean was exposed to the world of big business through his father and nonno, and he drew on much of this in crafting the business aspects of Siracusa. Sean is a long-time fan of the crime-fiction genre and all things mafia-related. THE DON OF SIRACUSA is his first novel.
Q&A Mystery Thriller Week
Author: Sean Rea
Title: “The Don of Siracusa”
- What was it like writing your first book?
Challenging, rewarding, infuriating, and fun. I started writing “The Don of Siracusa” when I was right in the middle of pursuing my degree, so I didn’t have too much time to devote to writing. When I finally did get a “finished” manuscript together the first thing I did was ask friends and family what they thought, and they confirmed what I basically already knew – the book was a mess!
Back to the drawing board I went, and when I had actually completed university, I decided that enough was enough. I poured everything I had into fixing the scattered manuscript and after much trial and error, and some help from a few close friends that edited and made suggestions, I had something I was proud of.
I learned so much in the process of writing this first one, and although it was infuriating sometimes, I can’t wait to get to work on my second novel. Whether that will be “The Don of Siracusa 2” or another idea I’m fleshing out is yet to be seen.
“Stay faithful to the stories in your head” – Paula Hawkins
- What was the most challenging aspect of writing?
Many writers complain about lacking motivation to write, or hitting a writer’s block, but I rarely seemed to run into that issue. Something I’ve always been good at is pouring my thoughts onto a page relatively unrestricted and incredibly quick. Unfortunately for me, that style of writing is what creates the challenge for me. I abhor editing my own work, though I realize the importance of it. For me, my often “planless” writing leads me down roads I don’t know my way back from. This results in a ton of deleted content, and plenty of hours trying to piece together scenes, dialogues, or plot points that don’t quite make sense.
The other challenge for me is being such a heavy critic of myself. There are times when I may feel like the quality of my writing isn’t quite up to snuff. I always want to be improving as a writer, and critiquing my own work so harshly allows me to improve, but it can also hold me back. It’s about finding a balance between not getting complacent when writing, but also not criticizing yourself into a standstill.
- What was the most rewarding?
The most rewarding aspect of writing, to follow up on the previous question, is when it all comes together. I am definitely quite hard on myself when it comes to my writing, but that’s not to say there aren’t times where I go, “Damn, maybe I’m actually pretty good at this thing.”
I really love the English language and writing in general. I have such an appreciation for when words come together to make you feel something, and I’m always looking for the best way to put words together. So, when I craft a great monologue, or write a scene that gets your heart to race or ache – that is what it’s all about.
As for the most rewarding moment, walking into Chapters and seeing my book on a shelf… that was a pretty insane experience.
- What elements make a good crime thriller?
This may be a somewhat subjective answer, but for me a great read has to be visceral. I want to feel what the character feels, I want to be emotionally invested in characters, and of course I want to be engaged in the journey they’re on.
Dialogue, to me, is something that many writers struggle with, and clunky or non-realistic dialogue is an immediate immersion breaker for me.
I think characters are always at the heart of a novel, because I’ve read some great books with mediocre or seemingly uninteresting plots, but never a great book with poorly written characters.
Everything else comes about as a result of a great character, because once the reader cares, they’ll follow that character down whatever path you take them. The same goes for me when I read a book – what really gets me to fly through the pages is when I need to know what happens to a character.
And it never hurts to sprinkle in a generous serving of sex, violence, and depravity to keep a reader interested…
- Who are your favorite crime writers?
I love both true and fictional crime stories, and I’ll read most any crime story out there.
My obvious favorite crime writers would be Mario Puzo and Nicholas Pileggi. Mafia fiction, in both book and film form, is my favourite genre. But I also happen to really enjoy John Grisham, Dan Brown’s earlier novels, and I’ve recently begun, and fallen in love with, Truman Capote’s works. And of course, I used to be obsessed with Sherlock Holmes and the Hardy Boys, perhaps that’s where this all started!
However, the obsession doesn’t stop at reading… when I’m not reading or writing I’m usually watching some true crime documentary, or some crime thriller film/tv series. Most recently I binge watched the entirety of the Mindhunter Netflix series on serial killers, promptly ordering and binge-reading the novel written by the main character’s real-life counterpart.
As for me, I would love to attempt writing something Grisham or Baldacci-esque, although I am also tempted to stray from the crime fiction niche and try my hand at something more classic. Regardless, the world of crime fiction has been very good to me, and I take so much inspiration from all the writers listed above.