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Interview: Harry Patz Jr., author of The Naive Guys

NaiveGuysPaperback.inddThe Discerning Reader extends a warm welcome to Harry Patz Jr. Thank you for joining The Discerning Reader Harry.

To begin, can you tell us about yourself and your novel, The Naive Guys

Thanks so much for reaching out, Melinda!

I’ve been in the tech industry for over twenty-years with time at Microsoft and a mobile marketing firm, Velti. A part of me has always been a writer, going back to an editorial role on the literary magazine in high school and the thousands of emails, presentations and briefs I’ve written in corporate America.

I finally brought to life all these thoughts and observations that have been in my head for years and completed my novel, The Naive Guys. It’s part coming-of-age, part historical fiction seen through the eyes of Mark Amici, a recent college graduate. It’s set in New York in the early 1990s, as he meanders his way through life, love and work.

What is Mark Amici up to presently?

Well, in the alternative universe where he lives (likely a third sequel!), he’s probably middle-aged and celebrating the New York Mets playoff success by taking his wife and five children to Mass to thank God, or celebrating in a different manner on a three-day bender in Las Vegas with Pete and Sally (Kostas having disappeared again). Possibly he’s doing both!

If you could change ONE thing about your novel, what would it be? Why?

This is a good, but tough question:) I essentially wrote the first four or so chapters, then put it down for eighteen months, then picked it up again and created a new “first” chapter, due to some other career commitments. While there was growth for me as a writer during this period, I would have probably started the whole project sooner and then tried to do it without that long break.

What has been the toughest criticism given to you as an author? What has been the best compliment?

On the criticism side, some may not care for the occasional ribald actions of Mark and company. On the positive side, from both reviews and direct feedback, there is a huge outpouring of affection for Mark from female readers, who really identify with him, his family and friends, his challenges and his story. Honestly, I would not have predicted those reactions.

Who is your intended audience and why should they read your book?

It’s for everybody! Actually it’s not. I believe though that anyone who has gone through that transitional period of graduating college and then trying to find their way in the world will appreciate it and identify with it…the awkwardness, the frustration, the highs and lows of love and work, family and friends. Those who “came-of-age” in that period will be reminded of the signposts of that era, and the next generation or two after that will like to read it to see what Mom and Dad (maybe) were up to. If you’re a student or participant of corporate bureaucracy, or possibly spent some time in sales and the tech industry, you’ll be rewarded with some smiles. And anyone who likes to laugh, you’ll love this story!

Is there a certain type of scene that’s harder for you to write than others? Love? Action? Racy?

I am actually a modest person by nature, so the racy scenes are challenging for me. But as the writer/creator, you have to make sure you are being true to the story and the characters, and relate it as you believe it would happen. I noted how Stephen King essentially said, “you have to write for yourself.” So even if I felt squeamish, if it was germane to the story, I worked my way through it.

Is there one subject you would never write about as an author? What is it?

At least this writer, like I would imagine others, write (some of) what they know. But I could not write in any depth about my wife and daughters. It’s too personal.

Do you read your reviews? Do you respond to them, good or bad? Do you have any advice on how to deal with the bad?

I absolutely read them, and always try to thank anyone who takes the time to provide written feedback, good or bad. I aspire, but do not always succeed, in trying not to get to high or low when consuming them. But writing can be a very personal craft, so it’s hard not to take it personally. My advice, which I am giving to myself, says the more one writes, the better one will be able to handle the criticism. It’s simply part of the deal.

If you could cast your characters in the Hollywood adaptation of your book, who would play your characters?

Part of the challenge of this question is that the actors I would recommend keep getting too old to play these parts! Nevertheless, for the core “Naive Guys,” I have a , darker-haired and less built Matt Damon play Mark Amici; I always see him as a thinking man’s actor. For Sally, perhaps Robert Pattinson from “Twilight” and for Pete perhaps Emile Hirsch or Channing Tatum. Kostas is a tough one for me; perhaps a younger John Stamos (with long hair!)?

What literary character is most like you?

I don’t know if he is that much like me, but I strongly identify with Richard Ford’s Frank Bascombe from his four novels, including The Sportswriter. He’s a gebtleman who is always observing everything around him, and often lost in hos own thoughts.

What question do you wish that someone would ask about your book, but nobody has?

I get asked often about the title, how much is inspired from my own life, and why I named the company “Fishsoft,” but no one has asked about my favorite character, and why.

I love them all, but Uncle Frankie is absolutely my favorite. And the reason is: the arc of his storyline went in ways I could have never imagined when I first started writing the novel. From the writer’s perspective, he “grew” so much more than I ever thought possible.

What can we expect from you in the future?

These characters lived in my head for such a long-time; I am taking a needed break from them. Yet, they still communicate to me at different times and unexpected ways! At some point there will be at least one sequel, taking place some years after the story ends in 1994.

I continue to participate with my Writer’s Group in Nantucket monthly, and for those interested our anthology collection, The Moving Pen: A Nantucket Atheneum Writer’s Group Anthology is on Amazon.

Thanks again for hosting me, Melinda. I enjoyed the conversation!

About Harry Patz Jr.8509321

Harry has been a participant of the Nantucket Atheneum Writer’s Group since October, 2013. He contributed a short story, “Offseason” for the group’s published anthology collection, The Moving Pen: A Nantucket Atheneum Writer’s Group Anthology, published in June, 2014.

Harry is president of Gondolin Advisors LLC, providing strategic advisory services to Communications, Media and Technology firms. He is a 20-year veteran of the tech and media industries, with executive positions at Microsoft Corporation and Velti. Harry holds an MBA from The Johnson School at Cornell University and a BS in Management from Boston College. He resides in Westchester, NY.

Connect with Harry: Website | Facebook | Twitter

 

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Interview: Corban Addison, author of The Tears of Dark Water

25087464The Discerning Reader extends a warm welcome to Corban Addison. Thank you for joining The Discerning Reader Corban.

To begin, can you tell us about yourself and your novel, The Tears of Dark Water?

I’m an attorney, a human rights activist, and a novelist. I write stories that are fast-paced and suspenseful, yet also nuanced and deeply human. They’re set on the global stage, and they tackle issues of international injustice. My first two novels, A Walk Across the Sun and The Garden of Burning Sand, were international bestsellers and published in over 20 countries. The Tears of Dark Water is my third novel, and the one closest to my heart. Depending on where you stand, you’re going to see it differently. Thriller readers will call it a thriller about hostage-taking on the high seas. Readers of international fiction will call it a story about Somalia and the Somali people and the need for cross-cultural understanding. Readers of family dramas will call it a story about three families—two American and one Somali—struggling to cope with the intensely personal fallout of an international tragedy. It is all of those things.

What inspired you to write a novel set at sea? What made you choose the Indian Ocean and piracy?

In February, 2011, the sailing yacht SV Quest was hijacked by Somali pirates off the coast of Oman. Four American sailors were taken hostage. The American government responded with overwhelming force, sending Navy ships and SEALs and an FBI negotiator to the scene. Four days later, all of the hostages were dead and the pirates were being extradited to the U.S. to stand trial for murder. The story of the Quest was the inspiration for The Tears of Dark Water. I wanted to understand how things could have gone so badly wrong. I also wanted to explore the emotion dimensions of a tragedy with such profound international implications. I wanted to know what would motivate a pirate to take to the seas. I wanted to know what it would feel like to be a hostage, to be the family member of a hostage, to be the negotiator trying to free the hostages, to be the Navy captain, to be a Navy SEAL. I did a tremendous amount of research and interviews to get the story right, including landing on a U.S. Navy aircraft carrier in the Arabian Sea, going to Somalia under guard, and getting to know Somalis in the U.S. and abroad. The Tears of Dark Water is not a fictionalized retelling of the Quest incident. It is a product of my imagination. But that incident played a large role in inspiring the story.

What do you want readers to take away from The Tears of Dark Water?

One of my goals in writing my books is to inspire empathy in my readers—empathy for people different from them, people from different places in the world, people who speak a different language and have different cultural and religious beliefs, people who are poor and marginalized and who we in the rich world don’t have occasion to think about most of the time. In The Tears of Dark Water, I worked very hard to create an honest, fair, and balanced depiction of modern Somalia, in all its beauty and tragedy, and to depict Somalis charitably, as human beings, without sugarcoating the challenges their country faces. I also worked very hard to depict their religion—Islam—in a nuanced way that reveals both the ordinary piety of the vast majority of Muslims in the world and the grievous excesses of the radicals who perpetrate violence against humanity—more often wounding their own brethren than anyone else. I hope my readers will see that there are as many sides to every story as there are characters in it, and that being human in the world requires that we take the time to understand each other, despite our many differences, even if we don’t ultimately agree with each other.

What genres do you gravitate toward in your personal reading?

When I get time to read novels (which doesn’t happen as often as I like due to my research and writing schedule), I prefer books that balance strong storytelling with rich characterization and elegant writing. Books like All the Light We Cannot See by Anthony Doerr, The Last Child by John Hart, The Shadow of the Wind by Carlos Ruiz Zafon, and Shantaram by Gregory David Roberts.

Can you tell us a bit about your next novel?

I’m currently working on my fourth novel, which deals with labor abuse and injustice inside a global corporation and in the heart of the global economy. It’s a book I’m really passionate about, and I’m having a blast writing it.

You are a supporter of international justice causes. How can your audience help you promote justice around the world?

The first thing anyone can do is care about the issues I write about. All of us are busy people. We all have limited amounts of time and money. But caring goes a long way, and, as I said, inspiring empathy in my readers is my primary goal as an author. Beyond that, I’ve put resources on my website that can help readers think more deeply about the issues I write about, and find ways to get involved more concretely in combatting injustice around the world.

About Corban Addison

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Corban Addison holds degrees in law and engineering from the University of Virginia and California Polytechnic State University, San Luis Obispo. An attorney, activist, and world traveler, he is a supporter of numerous causes, including the abolition of modern slavery, gender-based violence, and HIV/AIDS. He lives with his wife and two children in Virginia.

Connect with Corban: Website | Facebook | Twitter | Goodreads

Interview: Austin Williams, author of Blind Shuffle: A Rusty Diamond Novel

The Discerning Reader extends a warm welcome to Austin Williams. Thank you for joining The Discerning Reader Austin.

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Austin Williams is the author of The Rusty Diamond Series of crime thrillers published by Diversion Books. The second novel in the series, Blind Shuffle, will be released in October 2015.

Other books by Williams include the cult suspense novels Crimson Orgy and The Platinum Loop. He is the co-author (with Erik Quisling) of Straight Whisky: A Living History of Sex, Drugs and Rock ‘n’ Roll on the Sunset Strip.

He lives in Los Angeles.

Connect with Austin: Twitter | Goodreads

To begin, can you tell us about yourself and your novel, BLIND SHUFFLE?

Blind Shuffle is the second of three planned novels featuring the character Rusty Diamond. A washed-up Vegas magician who reinvents himself as an amateur sleuth, Rusty uses the tools of his former trade to combat a broad range of criminal elements. This book sees him returning to New Orleans, the city where he first learned magic, and embarking on a desperate search for a missing woman. Each Rusty Diamond book is written as a stand-alone thriller that does not require any familiarity with the previous novels, through readers who take the books in order may notice certain instances of continuity that add to the larger narrative. With a third book now in the works, it remains to be seen if the series will stop there or continue onward. I’d certainly be willing to come back for a fourth, should the opportunity present itself. Prior to starting the Rusty Diamond series with Misdirection in 2014, I wrote several novels and one nonfictional book detailingthe live music scene on L.A.’s famed Sunset Strip.

Do you write an outline before every book you write?

Not always but for this series of books, yes. With mysteries and/or thrillers, the plotting is obviously crucial so I find it helpful to outline the story in advance before starting a fleshed-out first draft. With some other books I’ve written, a more improvisational style of writing has worked out just fine. The latter approach can actually be more fun, but it’s not always practical.

Is there a message in your novel that you want readers to grasp?

I don’t consciously insert a message or moral into my books, and as a reader I don’t respond well to anything that resembles preaching in a work of fiction. Certain themes are bound to arise in the development of any story, and they might manifest in the finished novel in ways I didn’t anticipate. It should always be up to the reader or the audience to decipher meaning in any story, regardless of the medium in which it’s told. Ultimately, the reader should play an active role in defining what a story is really about.

If you had to choose, which writer would you consider a mentor?

There’s no one individual I would point to a mentor, but a number of fine writers possess certain attributes I’d like to emulate. For crisp, lifelife dialogue, Elmore Leonard is an obvious master. For tight plotting and sustained tension, Ira Levin makes it look easy even though it’s not. For sheer mastery of language, Martin Amis is pretty much unsurpassed. And for brutally honest humor about aspects of the human condition that many writers would choose not to dwell on, there’s no one like Bukowski.

Are there any new authors that have grasped your interest?

Sloan Archer is a relatively new writer who has made a strong impression on me. She tends to work in the horror genre, and has a tremendous knack for bringing unexpected humor and emotion to her stories. A lot of horror writers focus solely on building a sense of dread and delivering lurid shocks without developing the kind of fully realized characters readers need to make an emotional investment in the tale. Archer achieves a level of humanism and depth, along with the scares, that puts her work on higher level than many of her contemporaries.

What are your current projects?

I’m currently writing the third book in the Rusty Diamond series, which will be published in late 2016 or early 2017. After that, I plan to finish off another trilogy that began with my first novel, Crimson Orgy, in 2008, and then continued with The Platinum Loop in 2011. The third book is entitled Gaslight Black and will bring the legend of the world’s most notorious underground movie to completion. I’m looking forward to starting that project and getting back in touch with some old characters I haven’t written about in a while.

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Paperback, 266 pages
Expected publication: October 20th 2015 by Diversion Books
ISBN13: 9781626817784

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About Blind Shuffle: A Rusty Diamond Novel26074301

Far from the neon lights of Bourbon Street, heinous crimes are being committed against young women, and a street magician seeks to pull off his greatest trick by staying alive long enough to see justice done. The stage is set for a New Orleans noir perfect for fans of James Lee Burke and George Pelecanos.

Rusty Diamond abandoned the Crescent City years ago to pursue fame in Las Vegas, leaving Marceline Lavalle, the daughter of his mentor, with a broken heart. Now Rusty has come back to make amends with his former teacher and his first love―but Prosper Lavalle won’t face him, and no one has seen Marceline for days.

Five months pregnant, Marceline’s vanished without a trace. Her estranged boyfriend, a casino boss with criminal ties and a hair-trigger temper, claims no knowledge of her whereabouts. With the police not yet ready to declare foul play, Rusty launches his own investigation.

The search for Marceline will take Rusty into the darkest corners of New Orleans, where enormous profit can be made from human misery, where desperate people hunt on the fringes, and where not all magic is sleight of hand. It will force him to confront the mistakes of his past, and offer him a shot at redemption. And it will leave him―if he’s not careful―at the bottom of a bayou.

Interview: Michael Murphy, author of Wings in the Dark: A Jake & Laura Mystery (A Jake & Laura Mystery #3)

23395370The Discerning Reader extends a warm welcome to Michael Murphy. Thank you for joining The Discerning Reader Michael. 

How did you become involved with the subject or theme of your book?

I’ve always been a fan of classic mysteries, Dashiell Hammett and Raymond Chandler. I’m also a big fan of The Thin Man movies series. I love the wit and sophistication of William Powell and Myrna Loy. It seemed natural that I’d write about the era, so I created Jake and Laura

What were your goals and intentions in this book, and how well do you feel you achieved them? 

Wings in the Dark is the third book in the series. I wanted to continue the relationship of Jake and Laura that began with The Yankee Club and continued with All That Glitters. Wings in the Dark begins with Jake and Laura’s honeymoon in Hawaii, which soon gets disrupted by their involvement in a murder mystery involving Amelia Earhart.

Can you share some stories about people you met while researching this book?

I have a dear friend, a former actress and model, Jane Johnson. She has a great sense of humor and is gorgeous, the inspiration for Laura.

Research is crucial in writing historical fiction and since I include actual historical figures, it’s important to get them right. Since Laura is a famous actress and Jake a successful writer, they rub shoulders with some important historical figures in each of the books; Cole Porter, Joseph Kennedy, Ethel Merman William Powell, Carole Lombard to name a few.

The plot of Wings in the Dark cents around Amelia Earhart’s historical trans-Pacific flight from Hawaii to the west coast of the U. S. I spent a lot of time researching Amelia Earhart, reading books and articles about her and her famous husband, George Putnam and spending considerable time on the internet. She was a very talented woman who had her own clothing line and, although she didn’t consider herself a woman’s right’s figure, she was an inspiration for women throughout the world.

What do you think most characterizes your writing?

I strive for four things, a distinctive literary voice, humor, historical accuracy, and an entertaining mystery. I also try to capture the feel of novels written during the 1930’s. For example, I use chapter headings which were common back then. They bring an additional fun element to the story one doesn’t see today.

What is the biggest thing that people THINK they know about your subject/genre, that isn’t so?

People know about The Great Depression, but like The Thin Man, Jake and Laura are living the good life. They both deal with guilt seeing the gap between the have and have-nots and that’ s a common theme in the books.

What is the most important thing that people DON’T know about your subject/genre, that they need to know?

People need to know there are a lot of parallels between America today and America during the 1930’s. There’s that gap between people with money and the gap between them and the middle class. Unemployment and homelessness is a major problem today and back then. There’s also a raging debate on the role of government on how best to deal with social services and the economy during both decades.

What did you find most useful in learning to write?

What was least useful or most destructive? I’ve long since discarded destructive writing habits. The most useful is remembering that first, second and third drafts don’t have to be perfect. I write the first draft as quickly as possible and fill in the details of characterization, setting and voice, etc. Another useful lesson was learning the essential component of fiction is the scene and a novel is a collection of scene. When I finished my 4th Jake and Laura mystery, The Big Brush-Off, I ended up with six or seven deleted scenes, much as film-makers end up with when construction movies.

What inspires you?

Historical figures such as Amelia Earhart, the Kennedys, Franklin Roosevelt, although he’s yet to make an appearance.

What question do you wish that someone would ask about your book, but nobody has?

I’d like someone to ask about how I incorporate humor into murder mysteries. Humor is similar to drama, both are inspired by conflict. Humor can enhance characterization, diffuse tension and, in mysteries, create red herrings leading the reader to anticipate something dreadful happening when something humorous takes place instead.

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•214 pages
•Published July 14th 2015 by Alibi
•ISBN13: 9780553393378

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About Michael Murphy4575143

Michael Murphy is a full-time writer and part-time urban chicken rancher. He lives in Arizona with his wife of more than forty years and the four children they adopted this past year. He’s active in several local writers’ groups and conducts novel-writing workshops at bookstores and libraries.

Connect with Michael   WebsiteBlog | Facebook | Twitter | Goodreads | Publisher