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Author Joe Hefferon Talks about Writing His New Book, “The Last Meridian”

We are pleased to welcome to our blog today Joe Hefferon, the author of the exciting new hardboiled crime/noir mystery novel, The Last Meridian. He speaks a little about his process as a writer, and about what led him to create his fantastic new book.

 
Many writers are hesitant to talk about process. I’m one of them. We don’t want to overthink the way ideas form; we probably fear we’ll disrupt it. In 1786, Sir Joshua Reynolds told his architecture students to trust their “happy accidents” rather than always rely strictly on plans. Architects are still trained to trust them. The Last Meridian is one of those happy accidents. Sometimes, we get lucky.

I wrote The Last Meridian for much the same reason I write anything. I had to.

I often feel a surge of desire to write and it doesn’t matter what it is. The act feeds the jones. It usually comes after a period of drought and often hits me when it isn’t convenient to sit down and start, but I feel it wanting, pulling on a worn, fat cord dangling from my skull tower to sound that writing bell.

Joan Didion said, “I write entirely to find out what I’m thinking.” That makes sense to me. It seems I write to find out what’s poking me. There are emotions, unresolved conflicts and ideas that need air or they get cranky, so I write.

Sometimes it starts out as an overarching concept for a plot but more often it begins as a few lines of dialogue, spoken (aloud mostly) in dialect or accent that suits my mood. If I like the sound of it, I push it. I act it out, bringing in other characters and soon a conversation begins to take place between them, sometimes funny, sometimes not. It’s just that thing needing to be heard like a kid standing at the adult’s table trying to say his piece.

I just watched “Bridge of Spies” with Tom Hanks. The character who struck me was Michael Gor’s KGB officer, Mikhail Gorevoy. The portrayal was a cross between Peter Lorre and Christoph Waltz. I liked the way he moved. I began imitating the voice as I made a snack and wondered just what kind of killer would have such a voice and demeanor. Would he be polite and serve a proper tea before he pulled out the cleaver? Or would he just be the person everyone suspects because he’s so damn strange?

Maybe I’ll write about it and maybe not, but this is how it starts.

I know other writers meticulously devise plot lines but that’s just not my way. I prefer to let characters tell me their stories and ask me to speak for them. I try not to let them down.

I’ve wanted to write something hard-boiled for a long while, as a toast to the old detective flicks I’ve enjoyed. The fast-talking, quick-witted style of the characters has captivated me as long as I can remember.

I started typing. I picked a locale and began to sketch out a vision of a woman driving fast on a highway, someone with either a place to be or needing to be someplace else. I wrote an exchange between a sharp woman and a disinterested detective. I liked the way they played together. People matter more to me than intricate plots. It goes back to Maya Angelou reminding us that we won’t always remember what someone said but we’ll remember how they made us feel.

Things have to be simple when I start. Like design must work in black and white before color is added, good stories have to work at their most primal level. It’s one reason I like old movies—grayscale. The filmmakers couldn’t rely on special effects or sex to make a good picture. First, they had a good story and then they told it well.

I hope I’ve served that concept well.

Nina’s a cool customer, smart and present, but there’s always someone who can push the buttons of a woman like her. For that I had her husband. I knew him. I’d worked with him, drank with him, even acted like him before, but I knew how to get to her.

Once I started thinking about who Nina was and how she got to Los Angeles, questions about my son’s adoption began to crop up in her story. Nina didn’t seem the type to have kids, but that didn’t mean she’d never had one.

How would she feel about him after so many years? What if he needed her?

I knew what she’d do. I just had to figure out how, then determine how it was all going to end. It always does.

Once I put her son in a bad spot I had Nina’s intention. Her bad marriage, pride, fear, gangsters and other external influences became her obstacles.

According to the screenwriter, Aaron Sorkin, intention and obstacle are critical. The writing comes after. And now the publishing. I hope you find something to love about The Last Meridian.
 

GRAB YOUR COPY TODAY!.

 

 
The Last Meridian – crossing it was her only choice.

A telegram sets off a chain of events that destroys five lives, throwing Hollywood insider Nina Ferrer’s life into turmoil. The infant boy she gave up for adoption in Chicago sixteen years earlier has been arrested for murder. A plea from the boy’s adoptive mother pushes her to act, but Nina has a big problem—she never told her husband about the boy.

Nina must come to terms with her guilt, while accepting the reality of her fragile life and her cheating husband, who’s embroiled in another deadly plot. As her life unravels, the boy’s fate grows ominous. Set against the backdrop of the Hollywood heyday of the early 1960s, the quick-witted, smart-talking Nina, a designer for the well-heeled of Los Angeles, hires a private detective to uncover the facts about what happened back in Chicago, and save her boy. Maybe… just maybe… he can save her, too.

Or perhaps Nina will have to save herself, the most frightening prospect of all. To do that, she must cross The Last Meridian, the place beyond which life as she knows it will no longer exist.

Author Dr. Richard Barager Talks about the Interesting Subject Matter of His New Book “The Atheist and the Parrotfish”

We are pleased to welcome to our blog today Richard Barager, the author of the exciting new upmarket literary novel, The Atheist and the Parrotfish. He speaks a little about his process, and about what led him to the unusual but compelling story he brings us.

 
A frequent question in author interviews is this one: “What made you decide to write this book, of all the books you might have written?” In the case of my latest novel, The Atheist and the Parrotfish, there were two images seared on my brain decades ago that lingered and refused to go away. The exploration of what they meant became the basis for my novel.

One was of an encounter with a patient of mine, years ago. He was a gruff tradesman who came to my office one day wearing a dress and a bra and female wig, at a time when public cross-dressing was rare. I asked him why he was dressed like a woman. “Because I like it,” he said. “And that’s all I want to say about it.” I wondered ever since what exactly it was that he liked about wearing a dress? My memory of him that day eventually gave rise, over two decades later, to my exploration of what it means to be transgender—and why—through the character of Ennis Willoughby, described as follows in the story.

“Hairless legs latticed by thick veins peeked out between the rims of his white socks and the hem of his dress. With caved in temples and sunken cheeks, a dusky wattle dangling practically to his chest, broken teeth, sallow skin, and a glaze of despair in his eyes…All he lacked was the striped garb of Auschwitz.”

Another image indelibly graven unto my brain back then came during a trip to Paris, on a visit to the Louvre. I came around a corner and confronted one of the most arresting and disturbing paintings I have ever seen, a masterpiece by the Romantic painter Paul Delaroche, entitled La Jeune Martyre (The Young Martyr). It was of a young girl floating face up in the Tiber River, with her shear white dress billowing in the water and her wrists bound in front of her. A halo hovered over her, described in my novel as “…a thin gold circle of empyreal light…The lambency of the halo colored everything beneath it soft and yellow, even in the dark, lapping water.” The intensity of Delaroche’s rendering marinated in my mind for years and finally launched me on an exploration of religious skepticism and faith.

My memories of these images formed within several years of each other, but I had no way of knowing at the time that not only would I search for their meaning two decades later, but that I would do so in the same novel. Nor would I have believed it possible that my story would discover the same essential truth in each, a brilliant paradox common to Christianity and to cross-dressing. So striking was this elemental truth that I nearly titled my novel The Christian and the Cross-Dresser, instead of The Atheist and the Parrotfish. (Parrotfish, by the way, are hermaphrodites, spending part of their life cycle as male and part as female—like Ennis.)

What made me want to write this story, you ask? What makes most writers want to write literary fiction—the search for truth.
 

GRAB YOUR COPY TODAY!.

 

 
A doctor’s religious doubt is shaken by a transplant patient’s eerie knowledge of his organ donor’s most intimate secret.

Doctors tend to the needs of their patients, but patients give meaning to the lives of their doctors. So it is for Cullen Brodie, a twice-divorced California nephrologist, and Ennis Willoughby, a troubled cross-dresser whose life is saved by a rare heart-and-kidney transplant.

Cullen’s bitter disbelief in the afterlife is tested when Ennis begins to exhibit tastes and characteristics uncannily similar to those of his female organ donor—whose first name Ennis inexplicably knows. When Ennis becomes convinced that the donor’s soul has inhabited him, Cullen sides with Ennis’s psychiatrist, who tells Ennis he has subconsciously confused his emerging transgender personality with the imagined characteristics of his female donor.

While his psychiatrist coaxes forth Ennis’s female side, Cullen is summoned to the South Pacific by an old lover for a reckoning of their past. On the island paradise of Rarotonga, he is forced to confront the heartrending truth about a tragedy that destroyed their college romance—a tragedy Cullen blames on religious zealotry.

Filled with resentment over what he has learned, Cullen returns to Southern California determined to shatter Ennis’s delusion of ensoulment. But Ennis’s eerie knowledge of his donor’s greatest secret forces Cullen to consider the unimaginable: Is it possible he is witness to a verifiable incident of transmigration, tangible proof of a human soul? Or is he witness instead to the miracle of being transgender? Male and female at once, the glory of one and the glory of the other, both shining—like a parrotfish, another miracle of nature, changing gender apace, beside its glorious, ever-changing hue.

Author Adelaide Thorne Talks about Writing, Reading, and Her Book “The Trace”

We are pleased to welcome to our blog today Adelaide Thorne, the author of the exciting new Young Adult Sci-Fi adventure, The Trace. She speaks a little about her process and, of course, her new story.

 
Why do we write? Well, for the same reason that we read: we believe in stories. My story started cooking in my head long ago, but I never had the will to do anything about it—until someone believed in me. A pinch of belief mixed with an ounce of determination (and, most notably, eight million heinous drafts) can produce a book.

It all comes back to the gap in my bookshelf. A slit between my books judged me every day, grumbling, “Why haven’t you filled me yet?” My excuse typically had something to do with time. I never seemed to have enough of it. To any writer struggling to put words on paper, time does exist; you only have to grab it when it finds you.

So, about that bookshelf gap…. It demanded that I fill it with the story I’d always wanted to read, the story no other book could quench. This story of mine revolved around a girl whose name shifted and bounced, whose personality wavered as I grew. Her authenticity, however, remained.

I often took issue with the YA protagonists of my youth—too bland, too faultless, too accepting of the mantle thrust upon them, too hardcore, or too “Why me?” My own brand of perfect protagonist floated in the “Just hang out there until I say you can leave” part of my brain. This protagonist struggled to jump right into the “conquering hero” mold; she could be cringe-worthily cheesy and awkward; she had faults that she tried ignoring; she got scared when the time to be heroic came; and, she was human. By that I mean ordinary, flawed, and most of the time unsure whether or not any of her efforts would make an impact. This protagonist floated in and out of the ideas my brain conjured. One day, she found her story and stayed put.

Take a covert operation of powerful humans, an army of even more powerful enemies, an ordinary girl who suddenly changes, a best friend who needs protecting, and you’ve got the stirrings of Ella’s story. It’ll twist, characters will make mistakes, truths will find the light, and bad guys will reveal their humanity. This story might make you groan, laugh, grimace, cry, roll your eyes, or throw something—like the book itself. Hey, paperback is durable; it can withstand a few hurls against the wall. Most importantly, though, The Trace will nudge something in you—be it good or bad—because it’s a story and that’s what stories do.

The Trace is Ella Kepler’s tale—no doubt about that—but she’s only a fragment in a plot that expands the more she uncovers. She grows, she retrogrades, she falls, and she falls again—and the story around her continues, because the world will turn, even if we stop. My hope is that Ella’s world will turn with you.
 

GRAB YOUR COPY TODAY!.

 

 
The Grifters kidnap any metahumans living outside the Academy… like me. Only this time, they missed.

For centuries, a covert organization of metahumans called the Academy has protected unaware civilians from the Grifters, creatures whose humanity is as deformed as their craggy faces. I’d spent eighteen years ignorant of either group, and of their endless war. Then the Grifters found me.

The Academy whisked me away to safety, and we waited for the danger to pass. Only it didn’t. The Grifters, too stupid to know or too cruel to care that I’d left, kidnapped my best friend instead.

It won’t take them long to figure out their mistake, but I’m not going to give them the opportunity. Finding Kara means grueling training at the Academy—a sequestered hub of classified operations, psychic powers, and fighting creatures that should only exist in nightmares. We have the weapons, the technology, the brains. The Academists are strong, but Grifters are stronger. They can’t even feel pain. But we can, and Grifters are the perfect outlet for releasing that pain.

The Trace is the first book in the young adult trilogy “Whitewashed,” following Ella Kepler, a nascent metahuman whose strength and speed is matched only by the enemies set against her.

3 Upcoming Books (May 22, 2017) Now Available for Pre-Order

We are excited to announce the upcoming release of 3 new books, to launch on May 22, 2017, and each of which are now available for pre-order. We’ll provide all the details below, along with convenient links so you can pre-order your copies today.


 
 
Just click on the cover to see the book’s main page, where you’ll find some amazing endorsements/advance reviews of this great book.
 

 
A doctor’s religious doubt is shaken by a transplant patient’s eerie knowledge of his organ donor’s most intimate secret.
~~~~~
Doctors tend to the needs of their patients, but patients give meaning to the lives of their doctors. So it is for Cullen Brodie, a twice-divorced California nephrologist, and Ennis Willoughby, a troubled cross-dresser whose life is saved by a rare heart-and-kidney transplant.

Cullen’s bitter disbelief in the afterlife is tested when Ennis begins to exhibit tastes and characteristics uncannily similar to those of his female organ donor—whose first name Ennis inexplicably knows. When Ennis becomes convinced that the donor’s soul has inhabited him, Cullen sides with Ennis’s psychiatrist, who tells Ennis he has subconsciously confused his emerging transgender personality with the imagined characteristics of his female donor.

While his psychiatrist coaxes forth Ennis’s female side, Cullen is summoned to the South Pacific by an old lover for a reckoning of their past. On the island paradise of Rarotonga, he is forced to confront the heartrending truth about a tragedy that destroyed their college romance—a tragedy Cullen blames on religious zealotry.

Filled with resentment over what he has learned, Cullen returns to Southern California determined to shatter Ennis’s delusion of ensoulment. But Ennis’s eerie knowledge of his donor’s greatest secret forces Cullen to consider the unimaginable: Is it possible he is witness to a verifiable incident of transmigration, tangible proof of a human soul? Or is he witness instead to the miracle of being transgender? Male and female at once, the glory of one and the glory of the other, both shining—like a parrotfish, another miracle of nature, changing gender apace, beside its glorious, ever-changing hue.
 
 

 
The Last Meridian – crossing it was her only choice.

A telegram sets off a chain of events that destroys five lives, throwing Hollywood insider Nina Ferrer’s life into turmoil. The infant boy she gave up for adoption in Chicago sixteen years earlier has been arrested for murder. A plea from the boy’s adoptive mother pushes her to act, but Nina has a big problem—she never told her husband about the boy.

Nina must come to terms with her guilt, while accepting the reality of her fragile life and her cheating husband, who’s embroiled in another deadly plot. As her life unravels, the boy’s fate grows ominous. Set against the backdrop of the Hollywood heyday of the early 1960s, the quick-witted, smart-talking Nina, a designer for the well-heeled of Los Angeles, hires a private detective to uncover the facts about what happened back in Chicago, and save her boy. Maybe… just maybe… he can save her, too.

Or perhaps Nina will have to save herself, the most frightening prospect of all. To do that, she must cross The Last Meridian, the place beyond which life as she knows it will no longer exist.
 
 

 
The Grifters kidnap any metahumans living outside the Academy… like me. Only this time, they missed.

For centuries, a covert organization of metahumans called the Academy has protected unaware civilians from the Grifters, creatures whose humanity is as deformed as their craggy faces. I’d spent eighteen years ignorant of either group, and of their endless war. Then the Grifters found me.

The Academy whisked me away to safety, and we waited for the danger to pass. Only it didn’t. The Grifters, too stupid to know or too cruel to care that I’d left, kidnapped my best friend instead.

It won’t take them long to figure out their mistake, but I’m not going to give them the opportunity. Finding Kara means grueling training at the Academy—a sequestered hub of classified operations, psychic powers, and fighting creatures that should only exist in nightmares. We have the weapons, the technology, the brains. The Academists are strong, but Grifters are stronger. They can’t even feel pain. But we can, and Grifters are the perfect outlet for releasing that pain.

The Trace is the first book in the young adult trilogy “Whitewashed,” following Ella Kepler, a nascent metahuman whose strength and speed is matched only by the enemies set against her.
 

AND SO….

 
We hope you find one, two, or all three of these books to your liking, either for yourself or as gifts for your loved ones. As always, we thank you for your support. As an indie small press, we couldn’t survive without you, our loyal readers. Lastly, please share this great news with your friends.

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