This week's blog post is a book review of 'The Widow', Fiona Barton's first novel. The book was published in 2016 and has achieved both Sunday Times and New York Times bestseller status. It's billed as 'the ultimate psychological thriller... a terrifically chilling exploration of the darkness at the heart of a seemingly ordinary marriage.'
Wow! When I read that, I decided this novel was right up my street, both as the kind of book I like to read and also to write.. Here's the description from Amazon:
'We've all seen him: the man - the monster - staring from the front page of every newspaper, accused of a terrible crime. But what about her: the woman who grips his arm on the courtroom stairs – the wife who stands by him? Jean Taylor’s life was blissfully ordinary. Nice house, nice husband. Glen was all she’d ever wanted: her Prince Charming. Until he became that man accused, that monster on the front page. Jean was married to a man everyone thought capable of unimaginable evil. But now Glen is dead and she’s alone for the first time, free to tell her story on her own terms. Jean Taylor is going to tell us what she knows.'
Sounds gripping, doesn't it?
'The Widow' doesn't disappoint. I read it in one sitting, forcing my eyes to stay open one night as I devoured the contents into the small hours. I loved Fiona's depiction of the two main characters, Glen and Jeanie Taylor.
Glen is a petty, self-absorbed tyrant. His persona is wonderfully drawn, shown through the myriad ways he controls Jeanie and his failure to accept responsibility for his actions. Everything is someone else's fault, never his. (Don't we all know people like that?!) He attributes his dismissal from his bank job to his boss's jealousy rather than his unsatisfactory performance. When he's put on trial, he bills himself as a victim of police harassment. According to him, his obsession with child pornography is a medical condition for which he needs help. Not, of course, a sign of his warped nature, one that he keeps well-hidden. Here is a man who is outwardly unremarkable, yet, as the book asks, is he also a paedophile and a murderer? And is Jeanie complicit in his misdeeds?
The domineering Glen is mostly seen through the recollections of his down-trodden wife, who is a masterpiece of characterisation, expertly portrayed though subtle nuances. Jeanie adores her husband at first but her love fades as she realises the kind of man she has married. It's not long, though, before the reader starts to feel she may be hiding her own dark side. In addition, she might know more about Bella Elliott's disappearance than she's revealing.
The only flaw, for me, was that she comes across as older than her age, which jars at times. This may be deliberate, to emphasise Jean's unworldliness, but if so, I think it's overdone. It's not just that her name would be more appropriate for an older woman. At times Jean behaves like a stereotypical pensioner, so much so that when the narrative refers to her as being thirty-seven, it comes as a shock. Well, to me, anyway.
An impressive debut novel
As a foil to Glen and Jeanie, the other central characters of journalist Kate Waters and DI Bob Sparkes are more crudely drawn. Sparkes is almost like a caricature of a detective inspector, and his scenes didn't come alive for me. Kate is a more convincing character, although hard to like. Ruthless in pursuit of a scoop for her newspaper, she's hard as nails despite the caring persona she projects. The descriptions of unsavoury press behaviour are hard to stomach, as they frequently descend into harassment and trial by media. Fiona Barton used to be a journalist, so the antics she depicts are presumably realistic, yet in my view they're abhorrent.
Those wanting thrills a minute and a high body count may be disappointed by this book. The story focuses more on Jeanie's character development rather than delivering a plot rollercoaster. There are no twists as such - the ending is fairly obvious from early on - and few startling revelations. That's not the strength of this novel. The interest lies more in the reader exploring every nook and cranny of Jeanie's mind, in understanding why she gradually turns against her husband during the course of her marriage. As a first novel, it's impressive, and I look forward to reading more from this author.
Fiona Barton is a former journalist who has worked for the Daily Mail, Daily Telegraph and The Mail on Sunday. In the latter role she won Reporter of the Year at the National Press Awards. She gave up her job to volunteer in Sri Lanka and has worked with exiled journalists all over the globe. The idea for 'The Widow' came from time spent during her journalistic career covering famous trials. Fiona began to wonder what the wives of the accused knew or allowed themselves to know about the crimes in question. Fiona lives with her husband in rural France and has written several other novels. You can find out more at her website: http://fionabartonauthor.com/
This week I'm delighted to welcome novelist Karen Long to my blog. Karen Long is a Midlander by birth and now lives in Shropshire. She took up full-time writing many years ago and dedicates her days to writing crime fiction and observing nature. Her first novel, 'The Safe Word', reached the Amazon bestsellers' list and has now been followed by the second and third in the Eleanor Raven series, 'The Vault' and 'The Cold Room'.
It's great to have you here, Karen, so let's get started! Here's my first question:
Will there be a set number of books in the Eleanor Raven series? If so, how many?
It was always my intention to create a series of three novels that were linked thematically. The series takes place over the span of eighteen months and shares the same cast of characters and place but deals with a separate central story. All three books have now been published. I don’t intend to drop the Eleanor Raven character but have no plans for book four any time soon.
Do you share any character traits with DI Eleanor Raven?
Ah, that’s difficult. It would be disingenuous to suggest that there aren’t some aspects of the characters I create buried within my psyche. I don’t think I feel the anger, or the self-loathing that Eleanor Raven does but I like my independence and feel more comfortable alone than in company. Like Eleanor I am not religious but have an innate need for redemption. I believe most writers amplify their own characteristics when creating; how else can you achieve authenticity?
Do you see yourself writing in other genres besides crime fiction? If so, which ones, and what attracts you to them?
I like historical fiction and would love to write one but feel a little overawed by the amount of research I’d need to do. I suspect any story would have to be combined with a good murder plot, as I have little leaning towards romance. I have copy of a YA fantasy novel set in Victorian London, which is tucked away in my desk drawer. Every now and then I pull it out with the intention of self- publishing but never quite commit.
What’s a typical writing day like for you? Routines, that kind of thing?
I am not, in any way, organised as to a writing routine. I harbour a deep sense of guilt regarding my glacial output but have to be completely distraction free. I have an office but like to write in the conservatory, which has a great view of the numerous birdfeeders. Generally, I do write every day and it tends to be late morning into afternoon.
How long does it take you to write the first draft of a novel? Are you a plotter, a pantser or somewhere in between?
It takes me about seven months to get a first draft completed, and then another couple to complete the second and third drafts. I am not a deadline sort of person, I’m way too vague and unfocussed. I used to write copious notes but found they didn’t really help with plotting. Now I just keep mental images of actions and storylines.
What issues have you faced with research and accuracy with setting your books in a different country?
It’s very liberating to set your novels in a different environment because it can be moulded into the vision of a cityscape that responds to your plot. That’s not to say that I am lazy with place or time. I always check distances and environments with virtual maps, and read about places from as many sources as possible. I do have a working knowledge of the detailed landscapes and buildings that feature in the novels. However, it is because I am not native to Toronto that I have been able to create a vision from the flavours I experienced. It’s not accurate but then I’m writing fiction, not a travel guide.
What do you do to relax after a hard day’s writing?
Running, reading and a couple of glasses of wine.
Tell us about the rescue work you do with injured and distressed birds.
I’m a huge bird fan, particularly of the crow family. I used to have an aviary filled with rooks, magpies, crows and jackdaws, all in various stages of decrepitude but sadly we no longer have any left. Every spring I manage to look after and release a few babies that didn’t quite make their first flight a success. I’ve kept ravens, which are wonderful. All have deliciously dangerous and cantankerous personalities but the mayhem and home destruction can be very alarming and expensive. There are few things more delightful than having a clever wild bird sit on your shoulder and share a biscuit.
Thank you, Karen! It's been great talking to you.
'Six Minutes Early' is a suspense novel involving a drug cartel, which aids ISIS in a plan to attack the heartland of the United States. A former Special Operations officer, forced to resign from the Army, leads the planning and attack.
I have captured the current political climate in Washington DC and have used some recent events to make a relevant and believable story. This book is another fast-paced, suspense-filled book that will keep you on the edge of your seat.
My writers group keeps telling me they’ll miss me when I’m carted away and placed in the witness protection program. I certainly hope they are wrong and I don’t disappear!
Your books so far have focused on issues of war. Will you write about other themes and in different genres in the future?
How does your writing fit in with your non-writing life?
What are your literary aims and ambitions?
I plan to continue writing a book about every year or eighteen months. I want to continue growing as a writer, giving my readers quality stories that are believable and keep them on the edge of their seats.
My stories are well suited for film and I would love to see them made into movies. I would like to do a series someday. I am focused on the long-term, growing and keeping my readers. So far, the reviews have been great and I am very pleased with the feedback.
What's been the most joyful part to date of being a novelist?
What are your top three strengths (as a person, not just as a writer)? Your top three weaknesses?
Thanks, Patrick! It's been a pleasure interviewing you.
A few years ago, I was a phones salesman. Due to being a bit of an emotional wreck during my teen and young adult years, I had dropped out of the Army, university, and pretty much out of life. The one thing and only thing I had going for me was the woman who is now my wife. Her support and belief in me led to her pushing me into doing what I’d always dreamed of. She made me start writing in my spare time more and more, and most importantly she made me stay the course and actually finish a novel in full instead of constantly giving up halfway. Now, two and a bit years later, I have twenty-five novels out and am earning more than twice what I did working nine to five in a job I hated. Self-publishing very literally changed my life – it made me richer, happier, and less stressed (when considering how working in sales used to make me feel).
Have you always wanted to be an author? How did your interest in writing originate?
I would write awful stories as a kid that were pretty much just blatant rip offs of movies, but I enjoyed the act of writing and moved on to poetry as a teen. I’ve been an avid reader and movie watcher my entire life and really wanted to tell stories that moved people the way I had been moved.
What have been the greatest problems you've faced in gaining your success?
It’s difficult riding on the high that I am right now, because I want to plan ahead based on my current fortunes, but the way this business is, next year I could be a failure and having to go get a job. The hardest part of this job is not knowing what the future holds. There’s no contract of employment.
Who or what has helped you the most on your writing journey?
The author Joe Konrath has been instrumental in my success. When I started out, I followed the publishing/writing advice on his blog about pretty much everything. Everything he advised worked for me and I have now reached a point where I am trying new things out for myself and passing on that advice to the new guys coming up. I think if established guys all do their bit to help the newer guys get better then everyone benefits; and Joe Konrath is the absolute embodiment of that philosophy.
Who's your favourite author and what is it that resonates with you about their work?
I don’t really have one as it changes so much. I’m currently enjoying Matthew O’Reilly’s work, but in the past, my favourite authors have been Jeff Strand, Jack Kilborn, Brian Keene, Stephen King, James Herbert, Richard Laymon, J F Gonzalez, Kim Paffenroth, Scott Sigler, Max Brooks, Blake Crouch, Terry Pratchett… The list goes on and on.
Tell us more about your collaboration with Joe Konrath on the novel ‘Straight Up’. How did that come about?
Joe publicly announced that he was looking for collaborators and wanted short stories to be the test for authors to pass in order to work with him on longer projects. I wrote 'Straight Up' specifically to work with him but also used it as an introduction for one of my own characters, Sarah Stone. I have also just finished a full length novel that Joe and I have been working on, which is a sequel to both Joe’s 'Origin' and my own 'Final Winter'. It’s loads of fun.
She is a broken woman with a painful background. She is also an expert on Middle Eastern terrorist cells, which is why the Major Crimes Unit tracks her down and asks for her help. The only problem is that she’s a complete asshole and doesn’t want to help anybody. Eventually she gets roped in and starts kicking butts and taking names. She is a lot like Jack Bauer but with a very wobbly moral compass. She won’t think twice about killing a bad guy. Eventually all of the hate and hostility inside her will begin to take its toll.
Will you write in other genres besides horror/thriller in the future?
Yes, I switched over to techno-thrillers/terrorism books (featuring Sarah Stone) for a short while, but I imagine horror is where my career will lie for the most part.
Sounds great! While you are writing, do you ever feel as if you are one of the characters?
Not really, but sometimes I do act out scenes at my desk to get the emotion right.
What inspired you to write your first book?
Not wanting to work in a phone shop anymore!
How do you come up with the titles for your books?
Through hours of sitting there trying to think of one. I find naming books really hard. Sometimes I have the title before I even start, but sometimes I am wracking my brains right up to the day it goes live.
What books have most influenced your life most?
Erm…The Rising, World War Z, The Rats, Under The Dome, Contagion. Only in that they made me want to write horror.
And which person?
Joe Konrath, Stephen King, and Joss Whedon.
If you had to choose, which writer would you consider a mentor?
Need you ask? Joe Konrath.
Is there anything you find particularly challenging in your writing?
Just trying to improve with every book. I know I’m not perfect, but I’m trying really hard to be.
Lastly, how do you see the future for self-published authors?
Bright! What still makes me sad, though, is that there are many decent, talented authors out there who have not had the same success. I want to see more of them stuff their unfulfilling day jobs and live their own dreams – because, right now, it is more possible than ever.
Thank you, Iain, for agreeing to appear in my blog!
You can find out more about Iain and his novels from his website, www.iainrobwright.com; on Facebook or on Twitter: @iainrobwright. Iain's novels are all available from Amazon.
To what extent does DS Roy Grace reflect aspects of your own personality?
Out of all your antagonists, who’s been the most fun for you to create, and why?
What’s been your most challenging novel when it comes to plotting, and why?
How does your writing day shape up? Lark or Owl? Plotter or Pantser?
In the past, you’ve been very involved in film production. Do you see yourself returning to working in the film industry in the future?
With a book the creative process is utterly pure. There is just myself and my agent and my editor. If I don’t want to change one single word I have written I don’t have to. I love that freedom from the “committee” process of film-making. I’d be very happy never to be involved in that industry again!
Have you always been interested in the paranormal, or does your curiosity stem from your haunted house in Ditchling?
Tell us about the work you do with the charity The Reading Agency.
Like me, you’re passionately fond of animals. Tell us about your new venture into keeping alpacas!
Also like me, you’re a foodie. What’s your favourite savoury food? Favourite sweet dish?
You love cars. Are there any racing or driving ambitions you’ve yet to achieve?
Thank you, Peter, for a great interview! It's been a pleasure talking to you.
Tell us about your novel, The Woman in Black: Angel of Death.
But … then I was told this wasn’t just to coincide with the new film but was going to be the official sequel to the novel itself. And then I found myself in the papers answering questions. And then I realised I’d taken on quite a daunting task. But I wrote it and really enjoyed it. It’s different to the first one and different to the film as well. I saw it as my chance to use every gothic trope that I could think of, making homages to all the great writers and filmmakers who had so excited me. So Poe is in there, a bit of M R James, hopefully a bit of Terence Fisher . . . Great fun to write.
Has your early career as an actor helped you with your novel writing? Do you see yourself returning to acting in the future?
Will you venture into any other genres? If so, which ones?
You also write as Tania Carver. How different is that from being Martyn Waites?
The other thing is writing under a female pseudonym. When the first Tania came out, The Surrogate, it was a massive bestseller, both here and internationally. I can remember standing in W H Smith where it was book of the week and watching people come in, pick it up and take it to the till. And of course I couldn’t say anything. Well, not without being forcibly ejected from the shop. I’ve got used to it now though. Tania is kind of my main writing at the moment. But doing things like Woman in Black and Great Lost Albums help to keep me and the series fresh.
Tell us how American crime fiction of the Nineties influenced your early work.
So I had a look at some of the American writing that was starting to appear then. And it was a pretty fertile time for it. Like punk and new wave happened over here in the late seventies and revitalised the culture, in the late eighties the same thing happened with American crime fiction. I read Andrew Vachss and it was like someone hadn’t just opened the windows onto a world, they had blown the side of the house off. James Ellroy next, then James Lee Burke, James Crumley, Walter Mosely, Sara Paretsky . . . wow. On and on. And that was when I realised I had found my thing. They wrote about urban landscapes I could recognise, about lives and struggles I could relate to. It was real life reportage, spat back as literature. And I couldn’t get enough of it. And then I thought (because I was already telling myself I was going to write a novel), why don’t I do what they’re doing? Transpose it for the UK but bring that energy, that sense of engagement the politics, the anger with it? Yeah, why not? I realised that quite a few other British writers were having the same idea at the same time. It just took some of us longer to actually get into print. But they were my literary touchstones, the ones who inspired me.
You’ve held writing residences in prisons. Do you know if any of your students have published their work? How rewarding did you find encouraging offenders to write?
Tell us a little about the writing process for you. How long does an average novel take? How difficult (or not) are you to live with when creating a novel? Are you a planner or someone who writes by the seat of their pants?
Do I plan or make it up? Kind of both, really. I know that sounds diametrically opposed, but it’s not. I usually start with an idea or an image. That then suggests questions to me. And it takes the course of the book for me to answer them. I usually say that the first hundred pages or so are like an audition. It’s me finding out who the characters are, why they’re there, what they sound like . . . all of that. And the ones with the most interesting voices are the ones I want to stick with. Then I can see a structure developing so I start to plan ahead a little. Maybe fifty or a hundred pages or so. Then after that, take stock and plan the next section. And so on.
As for how long it takes, I don’t know. I try and allow myself a year to write a novel but always hope it takes less than that and I can fit something else in as well. But it varies. The longest it took me to write a book was five years. The shortest, three months. There are no hard and fast rules. And I also feel when I sit down to start the next book that I’ve learned absolutely nothing for my previous books. A blank screen is always a blank screen. And it’s up to me to be as creative as possible in how I fill it.
Finally, tell us something weird and wonderful about yourself that your readers might not know.
Thank you, Martyn! It's been a pleasure to talk with you.
I’d like to know more about your latest novel, the fourth in a crime series featuring DI Bliss and DC Chandler, called The Reach of Shadows. What can readers expect to encounter in its pages?
Recovering from injuries sustained in a road collision, DI Bliss is taken directly from hospital to a fresh crime scene and ordered to investigate the vicious stabbing and murder of Jade Coleman.
When Bliss realises the victim had reported being stalked, and that two of his own team had been drafted in to take her statement, he is given the unenviable task of interviewing both of his detectives.
Increasingly it appears that the stalker may be her killer. However, several other people soon become part of the team’s suspect list. Bliss also finds himself being questioned about his own past and has to battle to defend himself whilst continuing to investigate the murder. Soon more questions arise. Why would anybody target Jade Coleman? Why are the team unable to identify the victim’s close female friend? And why did Jade recently leave her job without any explanation?
With his work cut out, and his team under pressure, can Bliss solve the case before more victims show up? Or will the shadows of his own past reach out and drag him under before he can succeed?
What about your second Mike Lynch crime thriller, Cold Winter Sun, published in November 2018?
A missing man. A determined hunter. A deadly case.
When Mike Lynch is contacted by his ex-wife about the missing nephew of her new husband, he offers to help find the young man with the help of his friend Terry Cochran.
Arriving in LA to try and track down the young man, the pair are immediately torn away when the missing man’s car shows up, abandoned on the side of a deserted road in New Mexico.
When two fake police officers cross their path, Terry and Mike know there is more to the case than meets the eye, and soon they find themselves asking exactly who it is they are really looking for…
Tell us about yourself and what you get up to when you're not writing.
What is your all-time favourite novel?
What are you working on at present?
Do you work to an outline or plot or do you prefer to see where an idea takes you?
Do you think the cover plays an important part of the buying process?
I don’t, however, believe they buy a book because of the cover. But being drawn to it can be enough, because that may then lead them to read the blurb and go on to buy it.
What kind of research do you do?
How long do you spend on research before starting your book?
What advice would you give to would-be novelists?
Thank you, Tony! Here's more information about Tony and his books:
Tony’s dark, psychological crime thriller, Degrees of Darkness, featuring ex-detective Frank Rogers, was also published by Bloodhound Books. This is a stand-alone novel. Another book that was written as a stand-alone was Scream Blue Murder. This was published in November 2017, and received praise from many, including fellow authors Mason Cross, Matt Hilton and Anita Waller. Before it had even been published, Tony had decided to write a sequel, and Cold Winter Sun was published in November 2018.
Tony lives with his wife in Peterborough, UK, and is now a full-time author. You can find out more from his website, https://www.tonyjforder.com/
Twitter: https://twitter.com/TonyJForder @TonyJForder
Amazon Author: https://www.amazon.co.uk/l/B01N4BPT65
Barnes & Noble: https://www.barnesandnoble.com/s/tony+j+forder?_requestid=248936
As the parallel investigations by the CIA and the police begin to intersect in surprising ways, Dylan and Annie fall passionately in love. But they don’t realize that the shocking secrets they’re hiding from each other are propelling them headlong toward shattering personal conflicts—or that a terrifying predator is targeting them both.
I can vouch for the fact it's a great novel. Now, on with the interview...
You say that the failings of the US legal system formed the basis for Hunter's plot. Will future novels incorporate other areas of interest to you, such as environmental issues?
Let me stress that, in my stories, the action doesn’t grind to a halt while characters just sit around pontificating at each other. That’s boring. Instead, I weave important themes into the very fabric of the characters and plot. The conflicts, confrontations, suspense, and story resolution all revolve around the characters’ values and viewpoints. So, the reader’s emotional investments in the characters and their fates become part and parcel of the ideas.
That was my approach in Hunter: it dramatizes corruption and leniency in the criminal justice system. But readers will find even more controversial themes in Bad Deeds. It’s set in the environmentalist movement—another long-time interest of mine. But let me assure you, my perspective is not “politically correct.” And the third novel in the series, Winner Takes All, tackles just about every political controversy that has emerged since the 2016 presidential election. It is the most complex story yet—and many readers think it’s the best.
Let’s imagine a showdown between Lee Child’s Jack Reacher and your Dylan Hunter. Reacher has the brawn, but can he compete against Dylan Hunter’s brain? Tell us how Dylan Hunter would win!
Both guys also fight dirty, however, and maybe Dylan would have a few tricks up his sleeve that Jack wouldn’t expect. Who knows? Either way, things would get bloody. If your question is about something more than a physical fight—well, I’m sure that Dylan, with his money and background, could come up with a lot of high-tech spy gadgets to even the odds.
With its passionate love affair between Dylan and Annie, Hunter marries crime fiction with romance. Do you see yourself ever joining the growing ranks of male romantic novelists? Or perhaps exploring other genres besides crime/thrillers?
To what extent has your interest in philosophy, in particular the Objectivist movement of Ayn Rand, influenced the character of Dylan Hunter?
Another is Rand’s focus on justice. Dylan Hunter’s view of justice, and commitment to it, is unconventional and quite “Randian.” The justice theme was explicit in Hunter, which dealt with the criminal justice system. But that same theme will be explored, in its many facets, in all the subsequent books, too. Justice is the philosophical thread that will tie them all together. Stylistically, I think I owe some things to Rand, but to others, too. I’ll let readers draw their own comparisons and conclusions.
Does your interest in philosophy extend to spiritual and religious issues and if so, do you ever envisage writing fiction around those areas?
What fiction authors and books have influenced your writing the most?
Many other thriller authors have influenced me in terms of how to craft a gripping action tale and create memorable heroes. Besides Brad and Vince, I would add Lee Child, Stephen Hunter, and Daniel Silva to the contemporary top rank. I love the earlier novels of Jack Higgins, Nelson DeMille’s “John Corey” thrillers, the “Spenser” series by the late Robert B. Parker, the mysteries of Robert Crais (especially his Elvis Cole and Joe Pike novels), and the old classic thrillers and mysteries by Alistair MacLean, Donald Hamilton, and Mickey Spillane. Of course, many, many other writers outside the thriller genre have influenced me over the years, from Charlotte Bronte to J.K. Rowling to Robert Heinlein to J.R.R. Tolkien.
Would you ever accept a traditional publishing deal or will you stick with self-publishing? How do you see the future for self-published authors?
But as for my future English-language print and ebook editions, I plan to stick to self-publishing for a host of reasons. Today, an author will probably do far better by self-publishing. A publisher will take most of your rights and royalties, usually in exchange for a tiny advance. By self-publishing, you won’t surrender or share those rights and royalties with anyone. You also keep total control over every aspect of your book: its content, cover, pricing, and marketing. A publisher’s unilateral decisions about those elements can kill your book’s commercial prospects, which happens frequently.
Many writers think that a publisher will take the burden of marketing off their backs. Not true—unless your name is Grisham or Child or King. You’ll still have to do the promotion yourself. All that a publisher can do for you--maybe—is get your book into some bookstores for a couple of months, before it is remaindered and/or goes “out of print.” At a time when more and more bookstores are disappearing, and more and more book buying is moving online and toward ebooks rather than print, it makes less and less sense to hand over your precious manuscript to a publisher—then let them reap the lion’s share of the rewards forever.
The future for self-publishing authors is bright. Never has there been a better time to be a writer. No “gatekeepers” can keep you from being published anymore. You can publish as much as you want, as fast or slow as you wish, at whatever length, in whatever genre—or none. You have complete freedom now. That said, competition for reader eyeballs is ferocious. Competing with millions of other titles, your book had better be good, and you had better learn how to market it.
Tell us more about your second book, Bad Deeds.
At a cabin in Pennsylvania’s Allegheny National Forest, Dylan and Annie seek to heal the wounds from their ordeal at the hands of Adrian Wulfe, the twisted psychopath featured in Hunter. To build a life together, Dylan promises Annie that he’ll abandon his violent ways. But ideological zealots and Washington’s political elites have conspired to terrorize and plunder the hard-working locals. These victims have no protector against the bad deeds of the powerful and privileged . . . . . . except for one man. A man as ruthless and violent as they. Because in the face of injustice, Dylan Hunter cannot walk away—even if it costs him the woman he loves.
And book three in the series, Winner Takes All?
Engaged to be married, mysterious journalist Dylan Hunter and CIA officer Annie Woods are eager to put their violent past behind them, for good.
But then an investigative reporter is found mysteriously murdered. An idealistic presidential candidate is targeted for destruction. And a horrific day of unspeakable terrorism rocks Washington, D.C.
Soon, Dylan’s investigation puts him in the cross hairs of a power-hungry billionaire and a cold-blooded assassin. A deadly conspiracy of dangerous men aims to install their puppet in the White House. And these predators are willing to do the unthinkable to bring America under their total control.
The stakes—political and personal—couldn’t be higher. Because to stop them, Dylan Hunter must make an irrevocable choice. It’s a decision that will, finally and forever, seal his fate . . . including his future with the woman he adores.
Finally, I was very taken with the photo of your cat, Luna, who appeared as a character in Hunter. Can we expect her to reappear in Bad Deeds? Does she, with typical feline arrogance, consider herself your muse?
As I wrote the novels, the real-life Luna did decide she was my muse. She often lounged on a blanket at my office window, sunning herself, interrogating passing birds and squirrels, and voicing her literary advice while I wrote. It sometimes made me self-conscious, I tell you!
One wonderful thing about writing fiction is that the author gets to “play God.” You can make your Story World whatever you want it to be. That includes defying mortality. Whatever may happen to me or to the real-life Luna in the future, readers can rest assured that Luna, Dylan, Annie, and the other characters they enjoy and love in the Dylan Hunter Story World will live on forever in the novels.
(Isn't Luna gorgeous? I wish I had a literary muse as pretty as she is, but no doubt she'd insist on being inserted into my novels and dispensing writing advice as well! - Maggie)
Thank you, Robert, for letting me interview you!
More about Robert Bidinotto...