Tuesday, December 14, 2010

kiDNApped, march '11

WIRED KINGDOM author Rick Chesler is pleased to announce a deal with Chalet Publishers for his next thriller novel, kiDNApped, for release in March 2011, paperback & ebook! The technothriller will feature WK special agent Tara Shores in an all new adventure.

Monday, November 22, 2010

Friday, August 27, 2010

Crimespree Magazine gives FIRST THRILLS a glowing review!


Edited by Lee Child

"This is another thriller anthology and it’s got the big guns it. Ken Bruen, Lee Child, Rebecca Cantrell, Heather Graham, Gregg Hurwitz, John Lutz, Karin Slaughter and many more. All the stories are brand new and have not been anywhere else before. Some stand outs for me were: EDDY MAY by Theo Gangi, THE PLOT by Jeffery Deaver and UNDERBELLY by Grant McKenzie.

"As these are short stories I really can’t say much without giving things away, but I’ll tell you, there’s not a clunker in the bunch, these are all stories by authors at the top of their game." -- Jon Jordan, Crimespree Magazine

In a starred review, Booklist adds: "Hands down one of the best short story collections you’re ever likely to read. In many short story collections, there are a few standouts. Here, nearly the entire lineup stands out. A masterful collection.”

Congratulations to all of the debut authors represented!

From the publisher:

New York Times bestselling author Lee Child has teamed up with the International Thriller Writers for First Thrills, a showcase of many of the organization’s bestselling authors as well as rising stars in the genre. First Thrills includes never-before-published stories by New York Times bestselling authors including Lee Child, Stephen Coonts, Jeffrey Deaver, Heather Graham, Joan Johnston, John Lescroart, Alex Kava and Deb Carlin, Michael Palmer (with Daniel James Palmer), Karin Slaughter, and Wendi Corsi Staub.

This collection also serves as a great introduction to those whom the ITW has christened its rising stars, including Sean Michael Bailey, Ken Bruen, Ryan Brown, Bill Cameron, Rebecca Cantrell, Karen Dionne, JT Ellison, Theo Gangi, Rip Gerber, Gregg Hurwitz, CJ Lyons, Grant Mackenzie, Marc Paoletti, Cynthia Robinson, and Kelli Stanley.

Thursday, June 3, 2010

The Secret Code in WRAITH

Codebreaker Challenge

Recently I posted a youtube video challenging codebreakers worldwide to decipher the secret message hidden within the text of my covert ops thriller, WRAITH (available now in hardcover and Kindle). You can check out the codebreaker challenge video by clicking the link above.

Not surprisingly, I've received a barrage of questions about this code: What is the secret message? How did you do encode it? How can I crack the code? Why did you do it? Is this just a way to get more people to buy your book? Will there be secret messages hidden in your other books?

Let me address these questions one by one.

First of all, I'm not telling anyone what the secret message is. Okay, that's not entirely true. My wife knows; but she's already had numerous Top Secret Clearance background checks just for being married to a Stealth pilot, so I think I can trust her.

The codebreaking challenge runs until September 15th, so mums the word until then. After that, I'll post a series of hints on www.stealthcommand.com that you can look at one by one, so as not to spoil all of the fun.

What I can tell you about the secret message is the basic concept. It is a clue about WRAITH that you won't find anywhere else in the book. The plot doesn't suffer without this information, but if you can crack the code, you'll have a perspective that the other folks in your reading group don't have. Feel free to look down your nose at them. This secret message also gives you a heads up about what you can expect from WRAITH's sequel, SHADOW CATCHER.

How did I encode the message? I encrypted the actual message into something called code pairs using a Playfair Cipher, a 150 year old cipher technique employed by the British up until World War I. A string of Playfair code pairs looks something like this: cf wl ar pt (this is just an example, there's no code here). I then took my code pairs and hid them in the text of the dedication using a specific pattern.

To crack the code you'll need to do a little research and figure out how a Playfair Cipher works. Really, all you have to do is go and look it up on Wikipedia, they have a good article on the subject. Armed with the knowledge of what clues you'll need to break the code, you can then read WRAITH with a critical eye. There are generic and specific clues hidden within the text that should help you find the tools you'll need to decode the message.

I'll answer the next two questions here:
Yes, of course I hope this helps sell more books.
Call me a capitalist, but that's kind of my job. No, that isn't the only, or even the primary reason I did it. The primary reason that I hid the message and clues in WRAITH was for fun. What a challenge! To go a little above and beyond the normal story telling and add something extra for the reader. I'm a big fan of encryption and puzzels and stories like Disney's National Treasure, and I'm sure there are many readers out there who share this passion. With this same spirit, I included a lot of riddles for Jim Thatcher to solve in my pirate novella, PIRATES The Midnight Passage (available in paperback and Kindle). Readers can attempt to beat Thatcher to the punch and solve the riddles first. I love these kind of brain stimulating adventures, so it's only natural that I write them as an author.

Finally, yes, there will be codes in every novel that I write. In fact, not only does PIRATES contain riddles in the text, it also contains its own secret message encrypted into the dedication, though on a much simpler scale.

In all of this I will make one promise: None of my coded messages will ever decipher as "Be sure to drink your Ovaltine."

God Bless You All,

Jim Hannibal

PS If you didn't get that last comment, go back and watch A Christmas Story again.

James R. Hannibal is an USAF trained Islamic Terrorism expert, former Stealth Bomber pilot, and the author of WRAITH, a covert ops thriller lauded by Clive Cussler and Publishers Weekly. He is also the author of PIRATES The Midnight Passage. Both are available now from your favorite online bookstore. Find out more about James at www.stealthcommand.com.

Tuesday, May 25, 2010

Writing in a Top Secret Environment

I wrote the first half of WRAITH while still working in an office within the Stealth Bomber community known as “Q” (no kidding). Our clearances were so high that I can’t even tell you what they were called; in fact, I couldn’t even tell most B-2 pilots what they were called. When discussing this unique platform with other writers, I often get looks of envy. “How easy it must be,” they say, “to write about covert ops when you’re actually working in the covert world.” If only that were true.

The truth is that I look with envy upon other writers who don’t have government agents looking over their shoulder to second guess whatever they write. A normal author can write about covert ops or military technology without restriction. I don’t have that luxury. Everything that I write in those arenas must be submitted to an office called Program Security for review. What are they looking for? The governing regulations are actually pretty general. The reviewers have to rely more on tradition than definition, but here’s my attempt to classify the “no-nos” they’re trying to find: Intentional Disclosures, Unintentional Disclosures, and Inadvertent Disclosures. I love my country and the military I served in, and I would never intentionally disclose classified information, so we can skip the first one. The other two are a big concern, though, so let’s look at them one by one.

Program Security gets to determine if something I say goes too far, if it reveals too much about the areas I worked in. We’ll call this an Unintentional Disclosure, or UD, for short. If I’m careful, a face value UD is unlikely, but even if an individual statement is completely unclassified, it still can lead to a UD. Under a concept called OpSec, Program Security looks for multiple statements that are unclassified that may be pieced together to help foreign intelligence operatives reach classified conclusions. If they feel that statements I’ve written will compromise OpSec, they can forbid me to publish those statements, and I have to obey – that’s part of the security agreement I signed when they gave me the clearances in the first place.

Another area of concern is Inadvertent Disclosures; we’ll call this ID for short. My knowledge of the classified programs I participated and the technology that I was privy to may lead me to draw a fictional conclusion or create fictional hardware. As far as I know, an operation or piece of hardware that I create may not exist, but if it does, my creation may get struck from the record. This could have a devastating effect on my plot.

I used to be an OpSec manager, so I’m pretty good at scanning my own work for OpSec issues and preventing UDs. My biggest concern with WRAITH was actually an ID. A big plot driver in WRAITH is a fictional stealth reconnaissance aircraft called Dreamcatcher. In creating Dreamcatcher I used cutting edge, recently declassified technologies, and then invented some of my own. As far as I know, Dreamcatcher has no real top secret counterpart…as far as I know. But most of Dreamcatcher constitutes a natural convergence of existing technologies, and I feared that I might inadvertently “step on someone’s toes” by including it in WRAITH. Fortunately, Program Security made no such determination and Dreamcatcher survived unscathed.

One final headache is the logistical side of it all. How does one write a book that is technically classified until Program Security gives it a nod? Again, the governing regulations are pretty non-specific – trust me, I was looking for all the guidance I could get. What happens when they read my work and determine I’ve accidentally said something top secret? What happens to my computer, to the networks it was connected to? What happens to my poor, unsuspecting reviewers? There’s almost a “We’ll cross that minefield when we get to it” attitude in the regs, but I can tell you from direct observation what happens when someone sends a UD out over regular E-mail. It’s a very expensive nightmare with a lot of confiscated servers, angry people, and ugly consequences for Mr. Fancy Fingers who sent the E-mail in the first place. I don’t need that.

To dodge this potentially literal bullet, I wrote WRAITH on an un-networked laptop with no internet software. On top of that, I coordinated closely with Program Security throughout the process – something that was very easy while I was still living in that world and became more difficult when I separated from the military halfway through the book.

In the final analysis, the security folks were true professionals. WRAITH went through a very long, two-tiered security review and survived with only minor cosmetic changes, and I lived to write another day.

James R. Hannibal is an USAF trained Islamic Terrorism expert, former Stealth Bomber pilot, and the author of WRAITH, a covert ops thriller lauded by Clive Cussler and Publishers Weekly. He is also the author of PIRATES The Midnight Passage. Both are available now from your favorite online bookstore. Find out more about James at www.stealthcommand.com.

Monday, May 17, 2010

Check out my guest blog appearance in support of my debut novel WIRED KINGDOM on Walter Rhein's Heroic Fantasy:


Stop by, leave a comment, thanks!

Thursday, May 6, 2010

How I write a thriller

Timothy Hallinan, author of the Poke Rafferty series, has an excellent blog, in which he often looks at the process of writing. A couple of months ago he sent out a request for submissions from novelists on how they planned their books: did they plot rigidly in advance, or did they wing it, or a mix of the two, and if so what mix? He has called the series ‘Plotting vs Pantsing’ and it has so far featured some very thought-provoking essays from, among others, Rachel Brady, Stephen Jay Schwarz, Bill Crider, Rebecca Cantrell and Jamie Freveletti. I also contributed a short essay, and you can read it at Tim's blog here, or below, where I've reproduced it.

Get there

I’ve written two novels and am now writing my third, and each time it’s been different, but generally speaking I’m a ‘pantser’, ie I write by the seat of my pants. I usually write a synopsis that takes me through each chapter, but I don’t go into too much detail and it changes a lot as I go along. Writing the novel is my outline. I wrote my first book in a more linear way, and got into problems as a result. Now I start by writing tons of notes, ideas, fragments of scenes, snatches of dialogue, and when I’ve built up a large body of words, 40,000 or so, the structure starts to solidify.

At this point I tend to lose a lot of material as I realize that some scenes weren’t as exciting plot developments as I thought they would be, or simply don’t fit with other developments that I prefer. That can be frustrating, but I console myself with the thought that if I had prepared a very detailed plot outline in advance I’d have made the same or similar mistakes, but with heavier consequences: I usually cut material that is still only partially formed, so it’s less of a sacrifice. One of the reasons I don’t writer very detailed outlines is because I’m worried I’ll change my mind later. Something might seem perfect right now but in three months I might wake up in the middle of the night with the realization that it’s completely wrong. Or perhaps not even wrong: perhaps I’ll just be bored of the idea by then.

I want to write the kind of books I like to read, and they involve suspense. I’m writing a trilogy in the first person, and my character is a secret agent in trouble: so to a certain extent I also have to be in trouble. I like twists, but I find they’re often most effective if, like my narrator, I don’t see them coming. I want to know my protagonist, inside and out, but then to throw him into impossible situations and see how he gets out of them. I find plotting out too much in advance can suck the spontaneity and intensity from my writing, and I value both of those features above most others.

That said, I usually have a few plot points or scenes I want to include going in. With my first novel, Free Agent, I knew before I started writing that it would be set in the Biafran War and told from the perspective of a double agent. I also knew roughly how it began and ended, and had an idea of what kind of novel I wanted it to be. I nearly wrote ‘clear idea’, but it wasn’t really clear. It was strong. Just as you can wake with a very vague or even no memory of the dream you just had, but nevertheless have a very powerful sense of the mood of it, I had known in my gut what I wanted to write. I can articulate it now as, roughly, something that had the following elements and tones:

Spy thriller
Set in the late 60s
Cold War tensions to the fore
In Africa – feel the heat and the culture
Suspenseful action scenes that can match Bourne and Bond
But also character studies that are more like Greene or le Carré
So no silly gadgets or explosions
Dark, gritty and bleak
Conflicted and trapped first-person narrator
Laconic humour laced in
Real Cold War and espionage history integrated and revealed
Real history of this forgotten civil war
Unusual love story/obsession

Along with a few specific plot and character ideas and sense-memories from my childhood in Nigeria, I carried most of the above with me the whole time I wrote Free Agent – without ever writing them down as I just have. But when my drafts were nowhere near reaching the above, my instincts pushed me to make it happen. I felt that as long as I kept writing I would be able to fill in all the gaps and make the impression I had of the novel a reality.
With my second and third books, I wrote down a lot more about what kind of novels I wanted them to be before I started writing. But I still wanted to keep something of the feel I was looking for unarticulated, held back in my subconscious. With the second, Free Country, my thoughts about setting changed early on, which entailed a lot more research. But in each case I’ve had clear ideas about the beginning and end, some strong impressions of the tone of the books, of the mood of my protagonist and what’s at stake for him and those around him.

My methodology changed somewhat between writing my first and second novels: it became less structured. I wrote Free Agent in the evenings and weekends, handing in new chapters to a writing group as I went along. I wrote my second as a full-time author in a year. I was naturally worried that it wouldn’t be as good as my first, which took me seven years to write (albeit with a full-time job and no external deadline). So I attacked the second in a very different way: I thought a lot and researched a lot, then worked out a very rough synopsis and started writing, 1,000 words a day, throwing anything and everything down. It helped that I felt I had succeeded in my goals with Free Agent. Not only had it been accepted by a publisher, who had then shown faith in me by buying the next two books in the trilogy, but I felt that I had written the book I had wanted to. So I had a lot more faith in myself that I would get where I wanted, eventually. This helped when I became blocked or encountered problems.
Not having a very detailed outline means you will encounter problems, but I don’t think you can necessarily work your way out of them with outlines. At least, I don’t think I can. I think in drafting a novel it may be that there comes a point where structure, character and plot are almost irrelevant, or rather that they are no longer concrete or tangible to the writer. You can prepare very carefully and research and plot everything out, but at some point your instinct comes into play. For want of a better word, you feel the book. You realise what it needs, what it’s missing, and you set to work giving it that. You’re not really thinking about why a certain idea or scene or even line will make sense. You just feel that it will. Sometimes I can be blocked for weeks, and wish I had been more organized at the outset and had done a ‘proper’ outline of the book, scene by scene. But then I can make enormous strides in minutes, changing the book with very radical decisions that months earlier I would have been terrified of making, but which now, somehow, I now know will work. This isn’t something you can put on index cards. It’s about living the book, with all its problems and setbacks. Index cards and detailed outlining work fantastically well for some writers, but they’re not for me, and there’s no shame in it. All writers are working around a group of ideas until they manage to craft a piece they are proud of and prepared to send out into the world – it doesn’t really matter how we get there, as long as we do.

Wednesday, May 5, 2010

Seth Harwood, Tyrus Books and YOUNG JUNIUS

ITW member Seth Harwood (Jack Wakes Up) has something exciting going on over at his site today: he’s launching the pre-order sales of his new novel YOUNG JUNIUS, which is due out this fall. This is partly worth noting because Seth’s path to publication involves giving away his work for free as MP3 audiobooks. You can even listen to all of YOUNG JUNIUS before you make a buy. If you’re a fan of crime or hard boiled fiction, or you dig The Wire, you’ll love this book!

Now, Seth is partnering with independent publisher Tyrus Books to break new ground in publishing strategies. To read the full description of what he’s up to, go here. The brief version involves the pre-order of special, limited edition copies of the book that feature cloth binding, fan-created cover art, photos of the story’s locations, signed personalization and more. By offering these for a limited time via his site, he and Tyrus are able to print just the quantity sold and balance some of the cost (reduce the risk) of the book’s full print run–hardcover, paperback AND special edition.

If you’d like to read more about this or order a copy, head over to sethharwood.com.

Friday, April 16, 2010

An ITW debut Musical? Strangely Beautiful indeed!


Hello, thrillers! I'm class of 2009 author Leanna Renee Hieber, author of the Strangely Beautiful saga of Gothic Victorian Fantasy novels. (Dorchester) And I've just scored some pretty interesting news that doesn't happen every day to a mass market paperback writer and I'd like to share with you a bit about this unique process...

As seen 4/14/10 on Publishers' Marketplace:
Report of Option Agreement Sale:
"Musical stage rights to Leanna Renee Hieber’s, The Strangely Beautiful Tale of Miss Percy Parker described as a Victorian “Ghostbusters” about an eerie young woman whose skin is white as snow and the cadre of characters who believe she may be the key to an ancient prophecy, sold to Mt. Clair Entertainment to be adapted by the author with music and lyrics by Kenny Seymour, Jim Abbott and Nicholas Roman Lewis."

Further press details on the option agreement, care of Mt. Clair Entertainment:
"The ghostly, Gothic Victorian fantasy novel The Strangely Beautiful Tale of Miss Percy Parker is heading for the legit musical stage. The author Leanna Renee Hieber will write the book of the musical with music and lyrics by Kenny Seymour (Broadway credits include music direction for Memphis and arrangements for The Wiz) and Nicholas Roman Lewis (creative development for The Alchemist and They Call Me La Lupe) with additional orchestrations and arrangements by Jim Abbott (Wicked, Bombay Dreams, Disney’s Tarzan)."

From agent and creative developer Nicholas Roman Lewis:
"Kenny and I had been looking for a musical project for at least two years. Leanna's book had enthralled me from the moment I first read it as a manuscript so it was literally always on my desk staring at me. I knew this would make a wonderful musical but perhaps slightly daunting, after all, the book is full of ghosts, magic and murder. And then I thought, "the book is full of ghosts, magic and murder...this MUST be a musical." The characters and epic nature of the story lend themselves to song and I knew that Kenny shared my desire to incorporate sweeping cinematic themes with traditional musical theater styles. The icing on the cake is I think every writers dream, a lead character white as snow and strangely beautiful....I think I hear a song."

What's so thrilling for me as the author is that this is the culmination of all my childhood dreams and all of my professional pursuits. I began my first novel when I was 12, a sequel to The Phantom of the Opera because I was obsessed with the show. For me, theatre and books have always gone hand in hand. For the ten years I was active as a professional actress and playwright, I was always writing books. I still do background work in film and television in NYC and remain an active member of AEA, SAG and AFTRA. And yet I couldn't quite have dreamed this confluence of talents and forces; of everything I love and have pursued, all into one project. No matter what happens - as there are worlds of struggle between beginning a show and seeing it come to fruition on any sort of stage - it's a once-in-a-lifetime opportunity.

And it couldn't be better timing! My sequel, THE DARKLY LUMINOUS FIGHT FOR PERSEPHONE PARKER - releases April 27th!

I've gotten the questions: 1. How did this come about, and 2. what happens next?

The how: It's all my agent. I signed with him liking the fact that he represented playwrights and had sold film rights. Little did I know I had signed with a theatrical producer as well as an agent - what a lucky break! This possibility to use my work for his next project was clearly in his (and Kenny's) head for a long while before it was brought to me and presented for option sale. And it really took some imagining and faith for the team to say - I think we could do this... Now let's be clear, it's a long and hard, often heartbreaking road from option sale to show. But everything is possible with faith in the project, diligence, flexibility, community and a healthy dose of dreaming big.

So then I'm asked: What happens next? What's the process for something like this?

Now I'm set to storyboard the book. I'll lay down the 'must have' scenes and dialogue from the book. I plan to pick out overarching 'theses statements' from chunks of the book - becoming more intimately acquainted with the broad, overarching themes of my book than ever before. I've already begun thinking about how disparate scenes can bleed together into a flowing, cliff-notes whole. This will be a different product than the book and I have to look at it with an entirely different lens. Challenging but fun to put on different hats. In the meantime the rest of the production team will be going through the book on their own and thinking through their own 'must have' list, each of us respectively brainstorming from our own perspectives of script, lyrics, music, vision. We'll come together within the next couple of months to make sure we're all on the same page, and I turn over my must-have dialgoue for use in lyrics and refrains. And then we'll see something begin to come together, with the hopes that within a year it could go into a workshop production in some festival or regional venue. It needs time to grow and bloom (and gain development and investment) before heading to the Great White Way.

But I'm learning this as I go. And I'll take you all along for the ride if you're as curious as I am to see it unfold! You can join me on the journey on Twitter, Facebook and my blog! Of course, all details on my Website.

Strangely Beautiful blessings!

Leanna Renee Hieber

Tuesday, April 13, 2010

Chevy Stevens is the debut author of Still Missing (St. Martin’s Press, July 2010). Rights have been sold to Brazil, Czech Republic, France, Germany, Greece, Holland, Poland, Portugal, Russia, Slovakia, Spain, and Australia. Brilliance Audio bought audio rights for Still Missing and Chevy’s next two novels, and St. Martin's Press has sold book club rights.

Carla: Chevy, your story is about a realtor, Annie O’Sullivan, who is abducted and held for a year, as told in narration to her therapist once she’s freed. It’s a fascinating concept. How did you dream it up?

Chevy: When I was a Realtor, I spent hours at open houses reading books or scaring myself with horrible thoughts of what could happen to me. One of the most terrifying scenarios began with being abducted. That led to other thoughts like who would abduct me and what it would be like to try to fit back in your life after such a brutal experience. Was it even possible? The idea hovered in the back of my mind for a while, then one day I heard my main character’s voice telling her story to a “shrink.” I walked up to my office and just started writing. The basic structure and story line has never changed from that very first draft.

Carla: How long was it from that point until you felt it was ready for submission?

Chevy: Almost four years.

Carla: What made you stick with this particular story? Did you always want to be a writer?

Chevy: When I was a child growing up on a ranch I dreamed of being a writer and carried books around with me everywhere, usually with a cat under the other arm and a dog following behind. There were a few attempts at early novels, one featuring a detective mouse and another where a wife poisons her abusive husband—obviously I had an early tendency toward thrillers! I took writing in school, but I planned to be an artist. Then I started working in business and got sidetracked.

Shortly before the idea of Still Missing came to me, I’d stayed on a remote gulf island and started writing a memoir. I didn’t stick with that piece, but I fell in love with writing. Then I started dreaming in prose. I would see sentences landing on a blank page. Not long after the idea for Still Missing came to me. When I started writing, I became consumed with Annie’s story and connected with it deeply on a personal level. Although the exact events that happened to Annie did not happen to me, her story is a metaphor for my life growing up in a dysfunctional family with an alcoholic father. Annie’s emotional growth after her abduction is very similar to what I went through during the process of writing this book.

As to why I stuck with it for so long--that’s a hard one to explain. Despite the slim odds of being published and the fear of failure--especially when I left Real Estate in the middle of a hot market!--it was something I had to do. It wasn’t a choice, it was a compulsion.

Carla: What do you hope your reader will get out of Still Missing?

Chevy: I hope they see that it’s okay to talk about your pain, that there’s no shame in feeling emotions and being vulnerable. I hope this book gives people permission to tell their stories and the courage to reach for happiness.

Carla: What was the most challenging aspect of writing this story?

Chevy: This is a very emotional story so I had to dig deep into my own fears and pain. I often struggled to avoid going “there,” but when I did it was always enormously cathartic. From a technical perspective, it was difficult to tell this story authentically and share the nightmare that Annie endured--that women endure every day--in a way that wasn’t too horrific for people to read. It’s a fine line and I tried my best to be sensitive to the subject matter I was working with. It was as hard for me to write as I’m sure it will be for many to read. But I feel the book’s message is important; these are things that need to be talked about.

The book’s structure--told in sessions with Annie’s therapist--allowed me to dive into Annie’s psyche, but it was confining at times and very challenging to show her growth as she progressed through her therapy. I spent several months working just on the session intros, trying to get Annie’s voice to reflect her emotional state at each stage of her healing.

Carla: What was the easiest?

Chevy: I probably had the most fun with Annie’s sarcasm. I have a very dry sense of humor and it was fun writing some of her lines!

Carla: It’s unusual for a debut novel to garner so much international interest. What do you feel is its particular appeal?

Chevy: Although Annie went through a horrendous experience--every woman’s worst nightmare--she survived. Her spirit is shattered, but she doesn’t want her pain to win. Somehow, through it all, she’s trying to rebuild her life and find happiness again. That’s a human desire people can understand all over the world. There are many victims of violence and abuse who are struggling to heal. I believe Still Missing says that it is possible. You can overcome. You may never be the same person again, but you can end up a stronger person.

Carla: Could you describe an average writing day?

Chevy: I’m up by 6:30am and have my first cup of tea while I return e-mails and read blogs--all that good Internet junkie stuff! Then it’s out for a walk with my dog, Annie. When the second cup of tea is in hand, I start writing. I can’t retain focus for long periods of time so there are usually several tea, e-mail, and puppy cuddle/playtime breaks. And once in a while I make it to the gym! But that’s mainly just damage control.

Carla: If you could pick one author to meet, who would it be?

Chevy: If I were to pick one author, it would have to be Bryce Courtenay. The Power of One resonated with me in a way that no other book ever has, and I identified with his main character Peekay completely. He also has an incredible body of work and is just brilliant at capturing intricate family dynamics, usually playing out their stories in an incredible setting. His stories have strong themes of survival, which I really connect with.

Carla: Can you share anything about your next novel?

Chevy: I’d love to! Sara has a much different energy than Annie and it was interesting to see how that shaped the novel. Here’s a little teaser. Hope you like it!

"Sara discovers her biological father is an infamous killer who’s been hunting women every summer for over thirty years. She tries to come to terms with her horrifying parentage--and her fears that she’s inherited more than his looks--with her therapist, Nadine, who we first met in Still Missing. But Sara soon realizes the only thing worse than finding out your father is a killer is him finding out about you."

Carla: That sounds like an excellent follow-up to Still Missing! When will it be out?

Chevy: July 2011.

Carla: I can't wait. Thanks for stopping by our debut blog.

Chevy: It was fun! Thanks for having me.

Carla Buckley is the debut author of The Things That Keep Us Here (Delacorte Press, 2010) and Chair of the ITW Debut Author Program.