BEHIND THE BOOKS
Dinner At Deadman's
Dinner At Deadman's is my first traditional mystery and my first foray into lighter books. Just looking at Lorado Martin's station wagon, you can tell he is obsessed with junk. It's everywhere. Lorado loves yard sales, storage auctions, and he runs estate sales for familes. His latest sale is for a family he's known for decades and as he digs further and further through the valuables, he believes the previous owner was murdered and her grandson stands to inherit a considerable sum whether he deserves it or not.
One of the fun aspects of Dinner At Deadman's is that Lorado is based on my brother. Many of the antiques and collectibles discussed in the book are things we discovered together during research and writing. Since my brother is the hero, it made sense for me to tag along in the pages. You'll find Chris (my real name) cast as the author / grant writer who is handy with a shotgun and sometimes an elbow or knee. I had some fun with my own character and if you pay attention you'll notice that Chris has some inside knowledge into where the story is headed.
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The End of Marking Time
The End of Marking Time is a special book for me. I spent years reflecting on the ways family and society affect the development of criminals. When I sat down to write this book (I had no choice because I had torn my ACL and was ordered to sit still) the ideas came so fast my forearms hurt from the constant typing. I drafted the book in six weeks, a process that normally takes me four months.
When the book was polished and released, I held an online murder mystery for fans. Each day I posted a short story for fans to read. The characters from the mystery appeared as profiles on Facebook and as characters in chatrooms set up for the purpose (the chat rooms are closed now). I worked hard to replicate the world of The End of Marking Time, most importantly the uncertainty that comes with rules that are severe and unfamiliar. I was amazed at how this affected players. The courtroom (chatroom) was the most well-behaved discussion I have ever seen online. The players were so afraid of the laws that I had to rethink the way the murder mystery game was played. We all spent quite a bit of time in The End of Marking Time West Roxbury as we called it. At times the game felt like a psychological experiment run amok, but most times it was just plain fun. As you can see, I have fun with my events and take them to extremes sometimes. Check out the event videos on the multimedia page.
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Sin & Vengeance
Sin & Vengeance is the first book I published, but the second book I wrote. After years of torment writing Taking Stock, Sin & Vengeance came much more easily because I had learned how to write a novel and working with a clean page freed me from the problems I built into my first manuscript.
I chose winemaking for my hero Charlie Marston by chance because it seemed aristocratic. Looking back I don't know how I could have chosen anything else. The staff at Westport Rivers Winery helped tremendously with my research. The site became the location for the Marston's fictional home and I have enjoyed giving tours alongside the winery staff.
In 2008 Marla Cukor, a screenwriter from New York, approached me about the story. We signed an option and she went to work writing a screenplay based on the book. Currently the screenplay is optioned by a production company interested in making a feature film. I hope to have news to share about the production soon.
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Addicted to Love
Addicted to Love explores the feeling of new love, when you are so overcome by emotion for someone special that the whole world fades away. I began this book with a wistful feeling for that fleeting new love and then tuned in to couples around me. Some couples (my parents are one) are able to maintain this incredible connectedness year after year (49 for my folks). Some couples see the connection fall apart and discover that the one who inspired intense feelings of love and connection can turn around and inspire a furious rage.
Each of my books sets its own
direction, but this love story is a trailblazer for me.
Love permeates the mountain town of Highland Falls and
much of the story explores the relationship between Wes
Holliday, a wealthy entrepreneur, and Leah Donovan, a
hairstylist. The story is not without suspense and
surprises. I hope the guys will find the mystery of
love in Highland Falls intriguing and I'm sure the
ladies will be curious about the role the women play in
this mysterious love story.
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A Demon Awaits
A Demon Awaits is one of those books that would never have been written if I had to convince an agent and publisher it was a good idea. It probably wasn't. The book started off as an experiment and then ran into a number of weighty issues I was working through at the time.
Fans hated Randy Black. They wanted me to do evil things to him in my next book. When I decided to redeem Randy, no one thought it was a good idea. If you've read Sin & Vengeance (which you must do to appreciate this book), you know how insidious Randy can be. He is a fun character to write for that reason, but I wanted to show another side of him. He'll never be a cuddly guy, but I felt that much of what Randy did was explained by the tragedy in his past. My challenge was to show readers a side of Randy they could root for. Many learned to like him.
When I wrote this book I was struggling with two personal issues. I learned that someone read the first chapter of Sin & Vengeance and went and acted it out. That was a difficult responsibility to come to terms with. Maybe writing a book about religion and tolerance eased my conscience. I was also struggling with the idea of Muslim extremism and how a person could feel so strongly about something they would sacrifice themselves in a grotesque attack against innocent civilians. This book gave me a chance to explore all these things.
If you loved Sin & Vengeance, I encourage you to pick this book up soon after. It reads like the second half of the Sin & Vengeance story, told from Randy's perspective.
A point of interest: the silhouette on the cover is me, photographed by my daughter Hallie.
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Gretchen Greene is the 3rd Randy Black book and the first of what I envision as a long series. Randy undergoes a major transformation in Sin & Vengeance and A Demon Awaits. He's an anti-hero with flaws that have been developed "on screen." This book is the first of a series of adventures where Randy encounters someone morally ambiguous and has to decide whether this is the person he is meant to save, or if his mission is to protect the rest of us from this person.
Gretchen Greene is a hard woman to like because she is uber-focused on saving the planet regardless of what is practical for the rest of the human race. The book begins with a close-up focus on Gretchen and it isn't until a third of the way into the book that Gretchen and Randy meet in a chaotic accident. From that point on it is clear that Randy is the hero and Gretchen is a damsel in distress who may be more trouble than she's worth.
This book is an example of the story taking me in a direction and not me fitting the story into a formula. If there is one thing I strive for in my writing that is unpredictability. I let the characters and events dictate the structure of my stories and I write the ending that I feel is fitting. To date I have written some happy endings, some cliffhangers, and one real shocker. If you've read all my work and you pick up my latest offering, you should be fairly certain that anything could happen at the end. I hope that adds an element of risk for you the reader as it does for the characters.
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Taking Stock began as my first novel which I titled, Unleashing Eric. It was a labor of love about a computer stock trading program that delivers incredible wealth to its creator. At the same time, Erica Fletcher is under siege at work. Her boss has framed her for a major theft, a computer crime, and she waits until the last minute to discover that she's in real trouble. I finished the book in about four years. It received good reactions from those who read it. Some of them have told me they like the original version better than the one I published.
The problem with the original is that I began writing the book knowing nothing about how to write a book. Like any house built on a shaky foundation, there was always something to fix and I could have gone on propping it up forever.
When I finished Sin & Vengeance and the book started getting raves, I made a difficult decision. I threw away the entire text of Unleashing Eric. I kept the characters, split the plot in half, and rewrote the book from the beginning. I hope it will never take me this long to write a novel again!
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