guest post: Author Rebecca Coleman

Written by Darlyn At Wednesday, October 24, 2012 0 bookish peeps...
Rebecca Coleman is back, celebrating the kickoff of her new book, HEAVEN SHOULD FALL. So trot along on the blog tour and make sure to click through to every blog in the order listed to get the full first chapter– you won’t want to miss it! You have to click HERE to check ;p

"Cade’s takes a dramatic turn after Elias’s tragedy. Can you tell us a little more about how you developed his character?"

There's a certain type of guy who makes a good romantic hero: good-looking (of course), ambitious but willing to set aside quality time for the woman he loves, passionate, principled and charming-- well, you know the drill. When I go into middle schools for Career Day-- amazingly, they still let me do that after The Kingdom of Childhood-- I hold up a copy of Twilight and talk about how the two romantic heroes, Edward and Jacob, are conflations of everything women stereotypically love about men. And on the surface, Cade-- the guy who loves my protagonist, Jill, in Heaven Should Fall-- is a guy like that, too.

But as the reader slowly discovers, a man like Cade-- one who feels things deeply, is driven to feel relevant in the world, and believes he is a notch above most people he meets-- is especially vulnerable when things don't go his way. He wants to feel in control of his world, and believes he deserves to. As he feels his influence slipping, the ability Jill once observed in him-- to "find his passion and follow the prize of it like a polestar"-- corrupts into a desperate determination to matter, at whatever cost.

And so the "dramatic" turn that Cade takes after a crisis strikes his family is not as jarring as it first appears. He's the same guy as ever, only angry now, and with his judgment clouded by grief. This is an aspect of characterization that has long fascinated me. No real human being is entirely good or entirely evil; each person has something they want-- out of life, or out of a particular situation-- and will act, sometimes in ways that conflict with the values they profess, in the service of that goal. That's not inconsistency-- that's humanity. And so while Cade spends most of the book dismissing his brother-in-law Dodge as an ignorant redneck, when Dodge provides him with a route to his goal, the desires of Cade's ego trump his opinion of the man.

To me, the more deeply conflicted the character, the easier they are to write. A sense of uncertainty and struggle is something I understand, while moral certainty can feel foreign and even false. Like Zach in The Kingdom of Childhood, I saw Cade as a man wrestling with the angel; it wasn't hard to get inside their heads, because in one way or another, I've been there, too. And I think that's what the writing gurus really mean when they say, "write what you know." Every time I sit down to start a new novel I must research places and people, hobbies, music and occupations, learning it all from scratch. But a protagonist who struggles between love and anger, one who means well but often stumbles-- ah. I write what I know.

Book Excerpt - Scavenger Hunt
It wasn’t long before we made the turn back into College Park. Cade and I lived in the dormitories on campus—he in a single room, me with a snooty roommate—but on the weekends he often crashed at the apartment of his friend Stan. Up until the previous year he and Stan had been roommates, but now Stan had his own place, at which he held frequent parties. He was generous in offering his futon—or a patch of carpet—to whoever couldn’t drive home.

About the Book
A dark and compelling novel, HEAVEN SHOULD FALL (MIRA Books; October 2012) by Rebecca Coleman tells the story of a young relationship that slowly corrupts in the face of tragedy and desperation—and tests the character of everyone involved.

Alone since her mother’s death, Jill Wagner wants to eat, sleep and breathe Cade Olmstead when he bursts upon her life—golden, handsome and ambitious. Even putting college on hold feels like a minor sacrifice when she discovers she’s pregnant with Cade’s baby. But it won’t be the last sacrifice she’ll have to make.

Retreating to the Olmsteads’ New England farm seems sensible, if not ideal: Jill and Cade will regroup and welcome the baby, surrounded by Cade’s family. But the remote, ramshackle place already feels crowded. Cade’s mother tends to his ailing father, while Cade’s pious sister, her bigoted husband and their rowdy sons overrun the house. Only Cade’s brother, Elias, a combat veteran with a damaged spirit, gives Jill an ally amidst the chaos, along with a glimpse into his disturbing childhood. But his burden is heavy, and she alone cannot kindle his will to live.

The tragedy of Elias is like a killing frost, withering Cade in particular, transforming his idealism into bitterness and paranoia. Taking solace in caring for her newborn son, Jill looks up to find her golden boy is gone. In Cade’s place is a desperate man willing to endanger them all in the name of vengeance…unless Jill can find a way out.

About the Author
Rebecca received her B.A. in English literature from the University of Maryland at College Park and speaks to writers’ groups on the subjects of creative writing and publishing. Her manuscript for her critically-acclaimed first novel, The Kingdom of Childhood, was a semifinalist in the 2010 Amazon Breakthrough Novel Competition. A New Yorker by birth, Rebecca grew up in the close suburbs of Washington, D.C. in an academic family. After studying elementary education for several years, she graduated with a degree in English, awarded with honors. Rebecca lives and works near Washington, D.C. with her husband and their four young children.

p/s: I'll post the book review later. Seems like this post is too long and I dont want you to get bored ;p

guest post: Author Paul Batista

Written by Darlyn At Wednesday, October 24, 2012 0 bookish peeps...
Hi everyone. I know it is quite a while I didnt get to post anything so much these days. But today, I have Paul Batista, the author of Extraordinary Rendition, writing as a guest about his transition from a lawyer to a novelist. I thought it is cool when you finally know what's best for your life and have passion about it. I basically think that his book is a lso great. I was drawn into his book after reading the synopsis, and he got good reviews about his book too. I'll write a review of the book later (dont know when but I will!) and hope you'll give a try too.

"Why Make the Transition from Busy Lawyer to Novelist?"

More basically, why exit from a business with a good regular paycheck to a business where the financial rewards are uncertain? Why exchange a suit for a casual shirt and jeans? I get asked these questions a lot, and they are in fact questions I ask myself.

Let's start with a disclaimer. I haven't entirely abandoned the practice of law. This is work I've done for more than thirty years, and old habits die hard. Besides, I like it. More important is the fact that the legal work I do provides fuel for the novels I write. A criminal case or even a civil lawsuit involves a story, a narrative. Part of the function of a lawyer is to shape the narrative -- not to fabricate facts but to tell a story.

Creating fiction, however, does give me a license to do more than just shape the narrative of a case. In writing a novel I have the ability and the incentive to weave imagined events together, to create personalities and personal histories, to generate intrigue and conflict. In practicing law, I’m confined by facts -- and those facts can be extremely interesting given the nature of the work I do -- but there are no such constraints in writing fiction.

There's another factor. Law is a highly regulated business. No matter how independent you may be as a lawyer, there are people known as judges. They require you to do specific things on their schedule, not on yours. They want you to do things their way, not necessarily yours. They tend to have outsized personalities -- wearing a robe can transform a guy or gal who in civilian clothes is demure and shy into a muscled-up action figure. And there are also clients. They get to call you in the middle of the night.

The external controls on fiction-writing are different. Sure, an editor can set "deadlines" but those are more goals and aspirations rather than drop-dead dates. You can be disbarred for missing a judge-imposed deadline if you do that too often. The worst a publisher can do is get mad at you.

But the most important reason for transforming myself into a novelist from a practicing lawyer is the beauty of transformation. The stuff of a novelist's life is different from the stuff of a lawyer's life. Creating novels is a liberating experience; you can let loose your imagination. I find I can have a passion and a drive that, even though I’ve loved practicing law, I can't completely tap into in a courtroom. You hear commencement speakers constantly delivering to young graduates the trite mandate to "follow your passions." As you move through life and hit the jarring realities of jobs, families and obligations, you can get cynical about those conventional admonitions to follow your passions, live out your dreams, and fulfill your talents.

But those inspirational messages do have meaning, at least for yours truly. Even a lawyer can break out of the constraints of the life he or she has lived. There is something invigorating, even for a seasoned adult, in taking risks and having the courage to give up security and embrace something unknown, strange, exciting -- fresh.

About the Author
Paul Batista, novelist and television personality, is one of the most widely known trial lawyers in the country. As a trial attorney, he specializes in federal criminal litigation. As a media figure, he is known for his regular appearances as guest legal commentator on a variety of television shows including, Court TV, CNN, HLN and WNBC. He’s also appeared in the HBO movie, You Don't Know Jack, starring Al Pacino. A prolific writer, Batista authored the leading treatise on the primary federal anti-racketeering statute, Civil RICO Practice Manual, which is now in its third edition (Wiley & Sons, 1987; Wolters Kluwer, 2008). He has written articles for The New York Times, The Wall Street Journal, and The National Law Journal. Batista's debut novel, Death's Witness, was awarded a Silver Medal by the Independent Book Publishers Association (IBPA). And his new novel, Extraordinary Rendition, is now being published—along with a special reissue of Death’s Witness—by Astor + Blue Editions. Batista is a graduate of Bowdoin College, where he was elected to Phi Beta Kappa, and Cornell Law School. He’s proud to have served in the United States Army. Paul Batista lives in New York City and Sag Harbor, New York.

About the Book
When Ali Hussein—suspected terrorist and alleged banker for Al Qaeda—is finally transported from Gitmo to the US mainland to stand trial, many are stunned when Byron Carlos Johnson, pre-eminent lawyer and the son of a high-profile diplomat, volunteers as counsel. On principle, Johnson thought he was merely defending a man unjustly captured through Rendition and water-boarded illegally. But Johnson soon learns that there is much more at stake than one man’s civil rights.

Hussein’s intimate knowledge of key financial transactions could lead to the capture of—or the unabated funding of—the world’s most dangerous terror cells. This makes Hussein the target of corrupt US intelligence forces on one side, and ruthless international terrorists on the other. And, it puts Byron Carlos Johnson squarely in the crosshairs of both.

Pulled irresistibly by forces he can and cannot see, Johnson enters a lethal maze of espionage, manipulation, legal traps and murder. And when his life, his love, and his acclaimed principles are on the line, Johnson may have one gambit left that can save them all; a play that even his confidants could not have anticipated. He must become the hunter among hunters in the deadliest game.

Written by no-holds-barred-attorney Paul Batista, Extraordinary Rendition excels not only as an action thriller, but as a sophisticated legal procedural as well; tearing the curtains away from the nation’s most controversial issues.

Provocative. Smart. Heart-pounding. A legal thriller of the highest order.

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