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Guest Blogger: Barbara Taylor Bradford on “A Woman of Substance”

A Woman of SubstanceNew York Times best-selling romance author Barbara Taylor Bradford discusses her breakout first novel, A Woman of Substance, one of the top ten best-selling novels ever written with more than 32 million copies sold.

A Woman of Substance was my first novel.  I had attempted to write four others, and every time I stopped when I'd written about 90 or 100 pages. I simply didn't like them.

And then one day, unexpectedly, a young girl popped into my head as if from nowhere. I could see her clearly in my mind's eye. She was a girl of 12, and I knew she would grow up to be a beautiful young woman. Her hair was auburn and she had green eyes. But the important thing was that I sensed she was determined and clever and had a strong will.

That very moment, I took out my yellow pad and started to make notes. And soon I knew her very well indeed! Her name was Emma Harte. I understood she was driven and ambitious, and she was going to become and extraordinary woman. In fact, I wanted her to become a woman who would make it in a man's world of business when women were not doing that. I decided she would become a great tycoon.

Essentially, A Woman of Substance is the life story of a girl who started with nothing in life, who overcame hardships and adversity of every kind and triumphed in the end. I believe it’s an inspiring book because Emma achieves her dreams.

When I started to write the book, I knew I would finish this one. I had to because Doubleday in New York had bought it on a 12-page outline plus 90 pages – and they had done so within 48 hours of first reading those pages.

People have asked me why A Woman of Substance became so successful, and so quickly. I think there are many answers to this question. To begin with, Emma is a compelling character, as are her life long friends Blackie O'Neill and Paul McGill, the love of her life. And of course, the book has everything in it... drama, intrigue, money, passion, power and revenge – all of those great human emotions that make for a good story.

Eventually, A Woman of Substance was published in 90 countries and 40 languages. And I'm happy to tell you that it is still selling today. Woman all over the world told me that Emma Harte was their true role model, and that the book had changed their lives for the better. Some had started businesses. Others left bad relationships or abusive marriages. Many had gone to live in other cities. But they had all moved on and been successful. They thanked me for creating Emma Harte.

I had set out to simply tell a good story about a strong woman. I hadn't intended to send a message. But apparently, quite unconsciously I had. To sum it all up, all I know is that I wrote the kind of story I love to tell about an ordinary woman who becomes extraordinary in living her life a certain way and goes out to conquer the world.

Barbara Taylor Bradford’s second and third book in The Emma Harte Saga, Hold the Dream and To Be the Best, are now available in ebook, along with Act of Will, Angel, Remember, The Women in His Life and Voice of the Heart.

Guest Blogger: Gwyneth Paltrow

WithinGwyneth Paltrow is an Oscar winner and author of the New York Times best-selling cookbook, My Father's Daughter. She is a mother and an actress, splitting her time between London and New York.

When my latest cookbook, It's All Good, was nearly complete, I was still searching for someone to write the foreword.  Because the book included amazing recipes based on a particular healing diet I had been prescribed by my physician, I immediately thought of Dr. Habib Sadeghi.  Not only did he understand the medicinal qualities of whole foods, but also the spiritual partnership we have with the earth that provides them to us.  I was extremely grateful when Dr. Sadeghi agreed, and even more so when I recently received the opportunity to return the favor and write the foreword to his incredible new book, Within.

What struck me immediately about Within is that it’s so universal.  Yes, it focuses on the goal of losing weight, but it does so with principles that can be applied to anything we want to achieve.  It’s really a life map instead of a diet.  In fact, it isn’t a diet at all because he never mentions food or even exercise.  The world doesn’t need another carb counting lecture.  It’s really a healing workout for the soul, and that seems only fitting since people often call him the Old Soul Doctor.  

They say that over a lifetime, everyone has at least one story or experience that will break your heart. If that’s true, then Dr. Sadeghi has enough for three lifetimes.  He’s an old soul not because of what he’s been through, but because of how he survived and thrived on the other side of those difficulties. In Within, he shares the tools he used to get through those experiences and the wisdom he earned in the process. 

That’s why I was so proud to write the foreword to Within.  Who hasn’t wanted to change their life in some significant way and felt totally lost as to how to make that happen?  Dr. Sadeghi isn’t a motivational guru.  Even better; he’s somebody who’s “been there”.  If direct experience is the only real teacher in life, then Dr. Sadeghi has a PhD in getting your life off life support.  You’ll feel his compassion on every page and he never talks down to the reader.  Instead, he approaches every subject with the same intuitive empathy that makes him so successful as a physician.

I highly recommend Within, no matter what kind of change you’re seeking in your life.  Just be prepared for a paradigm shift in the way you think and feel that only comes from fearlessly “stepping into your loving”.

--Gwyneth Paltrow

Guest Bloggers: Don Mann and Ralph Pezzullo

Hunt the FalconSEAL Team Six and Thomas Crocker are back hunting their most elusive adversary yet: The Falcon.

When the White House needs someone to track down a group of dangerous terrorists who have been assassinating U.S. diplomats in posts all over the world, who do they call? Tom Crocker and his SEAL Team Six special operators, aka Black Cell. They’re the black ops specialists who are often tapped when anything highly sensitive, time-critical and extremely dangerous has to be done.

This time they raid a bomb-making factory in Thailand where Crocker and his team discover a group of Iranian terrorists holding Venezuelan passports, which points the finger of blame directly at the Iranian Quds Force. And here’s the little known true fact(the one that DC officials never talk about): the United States has been fighting a secret war with the Iranian Quds Force for years. They’re the group behind many attacks against Americans in Iraq (including the rocket attack on the Green Zone) and Afghanistan. Currently, they’re fighting alongside pro-Assad forces in Syria, and they also have a branch of operatives in Venezuela known as Unit 5000 that is in the business of shipping cocaine to Europe and using the proceeds to attack the West, and particularly the United States.

No one talks about them because they’re so nasty and as part of the Iranian Revolutionary Guards, take orders directly from the religious leaders of Iran – not the president, but the mullahs. They are, without a doubt, a state-sponsored Islamic terrorist group, much better trained, armed, funded and more insidious than al-Qaeda. And in Hunt the Falcon they’re lead by Crocker’s nemesis and the man behind his wife’s kidnapping in Tripoli (depicted in the previous book in the series Hunt the Scorpion) Farhed Alizadeh – the Falcon.

The question is: what are they up to now? And why are they operating right under our noses? To find the answers, Crocker and his men crisscross South America, trying to stay one step ahead of Unit 5000 operatives. When the latest technical gadgetry from DARPA fails during a raid on the terrorist hideout, Crocker has to rescue one of his wounded men the old-fashioned way: climbing a fence and improvising his way out with bullets flying.

Believe it or not, that’s just in the first hundred pages. And it’s only a fraction of Crocker’s problems. People back home in Virginia depend on him, including a wife at home who is trying to cope with PTSD and a father who seems to have fallen in love with a much younger woman.

The pace and severity of the physical and mental challenges Crocker and his men must face as they attempt to head off catastrophe push them to the brink of exhaustion. But even when they’re asked to undertake a final “suicide mission” deep behind enemy lines without backup, or a credible exfil plan, Crocker and his men answer the call.

--Don Mann and Ralph Pezzullo

Guest Blogger: Michael Connelly

The Gods of GuiltDefense attorney Mickey Haller returns with a haunting case in the gripping new thriller from best-selling author Michael Connelly.

In my new novel, The Gods of Guilt, the Lincoln lawyer Mickey Haller likens the practice of law to juggling chain saws: It can be dangerous, especially if you catch it by the wrong end. I think writing a novel is the same way. There are many pitfalls. You have to be careful and steady with your juggling. Still, every book is a challenge in its own way, and those challenges are set by the juggler himself. So there is no use complaining about it. If you want to take the easy route, then juggle marshmallows.
When I wrote The Gods of Guilt, I think I went with chainsaws. I gave myself a challenge that probably nobody would notice but myself. I just wanted to see if I could pull it off.

First of all, I wanted the book to function as an entertaining legal thriller with lots of intrigue, courtroom drama, and subterfuge. I wanted a few surprises too, including the death of a secondary character that the reader wouldn’t see coming. None of that was really secret in terms of the structure of the book. They were needed ingredients and difficult enough to juggle and keep in the air. The secret agenda I added was with regard to two of the main characters. While functioning as a fast-moving thriller, the book’s true center revolves around the relationship between Mickey Haller and his 16-year-old daughter, Hayley. I wanted that strained relationship to be the engine that drives Mickey’s choices and desires through the book. The book is, after all, called The Gods of Guilt. I wanted Mickey to be operating from a standpoint of seeking redemption in his daughter’s eyes, and if he succeeded, then he would save the relationship that means so much to him and ease the guilt that weighs him down as the story begins.

But here’s the catch—or, I should say, the challenge. I did not want Mickey and Hayley to have a single exchange of dialogue in the book, let alone meet face-to-face. I thought this was necessary, at least in the first half of the book, to underscore how deep the rift was between this father and daughter and how difficult it would be to bridge the gap. I wanted Mickey’s efforts to reach out and to explain his actions to be unrequited. I wanted his phone calls to go unanswered, his texts unreturned. When the centerpiece trial got underway, I wanted Mickey to turn from the defense table to look for his daughter in the public gallery, only to see she was not there.

I hope you pay attention to this as you read my novel. I know there is one scene where Mickey watches his daughter from afar, and another off the page where Hayley visits without Mickey really knowing it—you’ll understand what that means if you read the book. You’ll then be able to decide if the challenge was successfully met, and if it was the right choice. Can the father-daughter relationship be the true center of the book if the two principles never talk to one another on the page? You be the judge.

— Michael Connelly

Q&A with Kass Morgan, author of "The 100"

The 100Ever since a devastating nuclear war, humanity has lived on spaceships far above Earth's radioactive surface. Now, one hundred juvenile delinquents--considered expendable by society--are being sent on a dangerous mission: to recolonize the planet. It could be their second chance at life...or it could be a suicide mission. Find out which when you read The 100.

What was the inspiration behind The 100?

Kass Morgan: My editor, Joelle, had the idea for a title and thought it’d be fun to develop a book about a hundred kids with dangerous secrets sent to recolonize a nuclear war-ravaged Earth. I came on board early in the process and called on a lot of my own interests, coloring the story with shades of everything from Lord of the Flies to the Homecoming Saga, which was a major influence for me.

What was the most fun part about writing?

Kass Morgan: I enjoyed putting myself in the mindset of people who were seeing Earth for the first time after spending their whole lives on a spaceship. It was fascinating to think about the things we typically associate with beauty—sunsets, trees, rivers etc.—and then imagine what it’d be like if someone without our vocabulary had to describe them. Is a sunset intrinsically beautiful? Or is it something we’ve only been programmed to think is beautiful? Perhaps for someone who grew up among the stars, a mossy rock or even the body of a dead animal would have more impact than streaks of color in the sky.

Did you discover any tricks or tools during the writing process?

Kass Morgan: The story is told from four different POVs, which can be a little tricky for a writer, so I created four different playlists to help me get back into that character’s headspace when it was time to switch to a new section. But in the end, I found myself listening to the same few songs over and over again—tracks that I used to skip over because they reminded me of past relationships. Those songs turned out to be incredibly useful tools for tapping into memories of heartache, which as everyone knows, is an essential part of writing YA.

I’m also an editor, and I’ve spent years listening to my mentor talk about torturing characters—putting them in situations that evoke strong emotions and force them to act. But now I think it’s just as crucial to torture the writer! Listening to those songs proved so helpful that I decided to take the process one step further: I found really emotional emails I wrote (and received) at the end of an important relationship, which allowed me to recall all the fascinating anguish of heartbreak and guilt.

I may not know firsthand what it’s like to set foot on earth for the first time, but I can imagine what it’s like to be a strange, scary new place with the person you believe poisoned the world you left behind. 

How does it feel to have your book being turned into a TV show?

Kass Morgan: It’s awesomely surreal! I got to see the pilot, which was so exciting, I could barely sit still. It was crazy to see characters I created on screen, almost like turning on the TV and seeing last night’s dream being played out in front of you. The writers and producers did a fantastic job adapting the story for the different medium, and I can’t wait to see what fun ways they devise for torturing the characters!

I was particularly excited when Henry Ian Cusick was cast as the Vice Chancellor. I had a big crush on him during LOST, so the fact that he’s involved in THE 100 sort of blows my mind. If I weren’t the consummate professional, I might just tweak the plot to involve a shirtless scene or two . . .

The 100 is coming out in the middle of a big science fiction moment, with movies like Elysium, After Earth, Star Trek etc.  Do you have any theories about why it’s become part of the cultural zeitgeist?

Kass Morgan: I think science fiction is the natural evolution of the dystopian trend. Dystopian fiction and movies are a great way to examine our anxieties about the state of the world, but to me, sci-fi is a vehicle for exploring the solutions. In some ways, it feels more nuanced, more aware of the grey areas between good and evil.

Did we catch a dig at vampire novels at one point in THE 100?

Kass Morgan: Definitely not a dig! I’m a big fan of vampire novels; I think I wrote at least four essays on Dracula in college and grad school. Part of the fun of sci-fi/post-apocalyptic fiction is imagining which elements of a culture will withstand the collapse of civilization. Will our descendants be more interested in our twitter addiction or vampire obsession? How will future generations of school children analyze our peculiarities in their history homework?

How’s the sequel coming along?

Kass Morgan: I’ve having a ton of fun writing the second book, and just spent a delightful weekend writing in the woods. It’s great for the forest scenes, though less useful for the scenes on the ship. Maybe I should take my laptop to the planetarium this weekend? I wonder if they have free wifi and Stumptown coffee...

Guest Blogger: Holly Black, author of "The Coldest Girl in Coldtown"

The Coldest Girl in ColdtownThe Coldest Girl in Coldtown is a story of rage and revenge, of guilt and horror, and of love and loathing from best-selling author Holly Black.

When I was in seventh grade, I bought a novel for twenty-five cents at a garage sale a couple of blocks from my house. I picked it up even though it had a hilarious photographic cover of three glum-looking people in white face paint and even though I was worried something with vampire in the title would gross me out. The book was Interview with the Vampire, and I must have read it a hundred times since then. It led me to read Tanith Lee’s Sabella, or the Blood Stone, all Les Daniels’s Don Sebastian de Villanueva books, Suzy McKee Charnas’s The Vampire Tapestry, Nancy Collins’s Sunglasses After Dark, and lots more.

I obsessed. In seventh grade, I wore a vintage satin vampire cape to school. In eighth grade, I wrote a massive research paper on vampire folklore.

Looking back, I wonder why I liked them so much and why that fascination endured. I think its because they are contradictory creatures. They’re elegant yet animal. They were like us humans once, but now they’re monstrous. They’ll live forever and at the same time, they’re already dead. And they need us, because they need to drink our salty, delicious, disgusting blood.

They’re us with the brakes cut. Us, without consequences. Our worst, best – most extraordinary, most powerful – selves. The part we secretly love.

But as much as I wrote about vampires as a kid, I didn’t think I would ever write a vampire novel as an adult. I’d loved so many vampire books – and there are so many great ones, so many beloved ones – I just didn’t know if I had anything to add to the conversation. So when I was asked to write a short story for an anthology, I thought back to all the things I loved about vampires when I was a kid and I thought about all the stuff I loved about them now that I was an adult.

I started wondering how the world would experience an outbreak of real, blood-drinking monsters. We already, as a culture, love serial killers. We’re already obsessed with the beautiful, the doomed, and the damned. Imagine how much weirder and worse it could get. Imagine a walled-off, quarantined city where parties live-stream to the Internet. Imagine that the vampires there don’t kill a human every night, but when they do, everyone tunes in.

Did you know that during rally car races, the audience would watch from the side of the track, despite the fact that the cars often plunged into the crowd? It got so that having your leg broken by a famous rally car racer was a mark of distinction. And while laws were passed to make the sport safer – spectators kept right on lining up until they were forbidden from doing so.

We love wrecks. We love disasters. In our domesticated, civilized hearts is a yearning to get close to danger and escape, but also – maybe -- to watch others get too close and not escape.

Which is maybe why one of quickest paths to something like fame is through doing something disastrous – either on television or online. Criminals get caught after posting pictures of themselves with the loot they robbed on their Facebook pages. Three of the most popular videos of all time on YouTube are two men fighting on a city bus, a college student being tasered for loudly questioning Governor John Kerry and, a lady stomping grapes who falls and makes loud wheezing noises while trying to get up.

We love to watch things go badly for people.

And in The Coldest Girl in Coldtown, the world has gone badly for seventeen-year-old Tana Bach. She’s conflicted about the idea of monstrousness, having grown up with posters of literal monsters on the walls of her friends’ bedrooms, monsters with their own YouTube channels. She’s used to seeing girls and boys become famous by becoming dead.

So one morning she wakes up after a party, where she passed out in a bathtub, to find almost all the other partygoers drained of blood. She could be infected herself. She has to go on a road trip through the night with her ex-boyfriend, who is raging with infection and thirsty for blood, and one other person—the first monster she’s ever met, the first one who hasn’t been on the other side of a TV or computer screen.

Tana has had the world presented to her one way, but being among the monsters, is very, very different. What might seem glamorous from a distance is horrific close up. She’s got to save herself, but she can’t help but be tempted to try to save others too – and that temptation will cost her a lot of things, maybe even her humanity.

The Coldest Girl in Coldtown is full of stuff I love—all the messy, messed-up stuff. It’s the book I always wanted, the one I never knew I would write. But most of all, it’s a book about a girl discovering her inner monster and learning to love it.

--Holly Black

Exclusive Q&A with Jonathan Maberry on Zombies

Author and zombie expert Jonathan Maberry shares his insight about the undead phenomenon in popular culture, the differences between writing prose novels and comics, and his work on the "Marvel Universe vs." line of graphic novels.

Zombies seem to pervade pop culture these days.  What do you think is the appeal for readers? And what is the appeal for you as a writer?

Jonathan Maberry: It took a while for the mainstream to catch-on, but zombies are about the most useful trope for telling just about any kind of story.  You can’t say the same with vampires because they’ve become so highly romanticized that they’ve become the story. Often they're more interesting than the human characters, and after a while that can hit a single, grating note. Zombified Jonathan Maberry

With zombies, the creatures have no personality, no intelligence; they don’t crowd the humans out of the story. They represent a massive, shared threat that every character in the story reacts to, and once introduced it’s often best not to have them shamble through every scene. Because everyone is reacting to this same threat, and because the monster’s personality in no way intrudes, we get to put the human characters under the microscope. We get to see how this shared threat impacts their lives. People under stress are the very basis of drama.

Thematically, the zombie plague is a protean metaphor. It can stand for something different to each writer and even, through interpretation, to each reader/viewer.  In World War Z, Max Brooks chose to explore the way politics might interfere with the response to a viral outbreak.  Joe McKinney uses his series of novels as a way of showcasing the failure of the government’s disaster response infrastructure. S.G. Browne explored more personal matters of love and disenfranchisement in Breathers. Charlie Higson gave us a new version of the Generation Gap with The Enemy.

I’ve used zombies to explore a lot of different themes in my novels, comics and short stories. In Patient Zero I took a look at how biotech industries can use science to manipulate politics in order to maximize profits. In Dead of Night and its forthcoming sequel Fall of Night, the story deals with the moral issues of using (or even preserving for research purposes) the biological warfare science of the Cold War. That book also uses a creepy point-of-view subplot to explore dementia and Alzheimers. In Rot & Ruin and its sequels we explore the value of human life.

There’s no end to the creative potential of the zombie genre.

Continue reading "Exclusive Q&A with Jonathan Maberry on Zombies" »

Guest Blogger: Alan Weisman, author of "Countdown"

CountdownAlan Weisman is the author of several books, including The World Without Us: an international best-seller translated in 34 languages, a finalist for the National Book Critics Circle Award, and winner of the Wenjin Book Prize of the National Library of China.

Countdown: Our Last, Best Hope for a Future on Earth? addresses a question I’d left dangling at the end of my last book, The World Without Us, a thought experiment that imagined what would happen if people vanished from our planet. The idea of theoretically wiping us from the Earth was to show that, despite colossal damage we’ve wreaked, nature has remarkable healing powers. When relieved of the pressures we humans daily heap upon it, restoration and renewal commence with surprising swiftness.  My hope was that readers, seduced by the gorgeous prospect of a refreshed, healthy Earth, might ask themselves how we could add Homo sapiens back into the picture—only in harmony, not mortal combat, with the rest of nature.

The question I’d left them to ponder was how many people can this planet really hold without capsizing it? A million more of us every 4½ days didn’t sound sustainable– was it time for us to consider gradually bringing ourselves down to a workable equilibrium with our Earthly habitat, before nature brutally did that for us?

This delicate, potentially explosive notion generated so much subsequent discussion that I realized I should investigate it fully.  It’s easy to grasp why populations of prey, predators, and forage plants have to be kept in balance in a national park, but much harder when your own species is in question.  Anticipating the cultural and emotional pitfalls, I’d need to apply objective tools of journalism to learn if the optimum number of humans could actually be determined, and if there were something we could realistically and humanely do about it.

I also had to confront three corollary questions: How much ecosystem is required to preserve human life – what species or ecological processes are essential to our survival?  And if, in order to survive, we have to avoid growing beyond 10 billion—or even reduce our numbers from our current 7+ billion—is there an acceptable, nonviolent way to convince a majority of the world’s religions, nationalities, and political systems that it's in their best interest to do so, or is there anything in their liturgies, histories, or belief systems that might embrace the seemingly unnatural idea of limiting ourselves? Finally, how might we design an economy for a shrinking population, and then for a stable, optimal one—meaning, a way to prosper without constant growth?

My research ended up taking me to 21 countries, starting in Israel and Palestine, ending in Iran, with much of Europe, Africa, the Americas, and the Far East in between. More than one expert I met commented that I was asking the most important questions on Earth—but they were probably impossible to answer.

My reply was that if these are the most important questions on Earth, we’d damn well better try.

--Alan Weisman

Guest Blogger: Michael Robotham

BombproofMichael Robotham has been an investigative journalist in Britain, Australia and the US. One of world's most acclaimed authors of thriller fiction, he lives in Sydney with his wife and three daughters.

They say that a novel often begins with two ideas colliding, which makes it sound like nuclear fusion, all heat and light and energy. My creative process is much more like a car crash where I play the crash scene investigator, turning up in the aftermath and trying to piece together the evidence.
   
Bombproof began like that for me.
   
It tells the story of Sami Macbeth – the unluckiest man in the world, who is wrongly imprisoned for a jewel theft and is mistakenly perceived to be the greatest safebreaker in the world. While this guarantees Sami respect in prison, it also means that once outside, he’s a man in demand.
   
Sami wants nothing to do with gangsters and safe breaking. He wants to lead a quiet life, play his guitar and dream of being a rock god – but when his sister is kidnapped and held hostage, he has no choice but to play along.
   
Bombproof begins with an explosion on the London Underground, which Sami survives, but he soon becomes Britain’s most wanted man because he can’t reveal what he’s carrying.

The idea for the novel came to me not long after July 2005 London transport bombings, when fear and suspicion gripped the city. I often travel on the Underground with a small rucksack containing water and notebooks. I noticed how people would glance at the bag between my feet. It made me wonder what would happen if I had something else in the bag – not a bomb, but something else illegal. What if I refused to have it searched?

The other story that was still fresh in my mind was the death of Jean de Menezes at Stockwell Tube station in South London. He was shot dead by firearms officers who mistook him for a suicide bomber. After giving no warning, they fired seven shots into his body. De Menezes was an innocent man – a Brazilian electrician, who couldn’t understand what the police were shouting at him.

I didn’t want to make light of such a tragedy, but I did want to explore the sense of community hysteria that is triggered by a terrorist attack.
   
Bombproof is a little different from my past novels. Instead of being a tense and often suffocating psychological thriller, it’s full of sex, violence, one-liners and hopefully some laughs. It’s like something that Quentin Tarantino might film, or a Lock, Stock and Two Smoking Barrels full of gangsters, corrupt police, stand-over men, pimps and colourful women.
   
I hope you have as much fun reading it as I had writing it.

--Michael Robotham

Guest Blogger: Sandra Brown

DeadlineSandra Brown began her writing career in 1981 and since then has published over seventy novels including her latest, Deadline.

Recently my husband and I were having dinner with another couple whom we don’t see often because of geography.  As the conversation turned to work-related news, they asked my opinion of eBooks.     

My answer was completely self-interested.  “Today I learned that one of my books, originally published in 1995, moved up three spots on the New York Times eBook bestsellers list.  It’s been on there for six weeks.  I’m feeling rather good about eBooks!”    

In the past six months, eight of my backlist suspense novels have been made available as eBooks for the first time.  In upcoming months, and well into 2014, eight more of that genre, as well as eighteen romances (published prior to 1990), will become available.     

This represents an enormous and ever-expanding new market.  Already new readers have discovered me.  Longstanding fans have, for years, wanted to download their favorite Sandra Brown book, and now they can or will be able to soon.  Readers who’ve become recent loyalists want to read the backlist because –  God bless them – they feel as though they’ve missed something.  In other countries readers are keystrokes away from acquiring books they couldn’t get before.    

I’m loving it!  But is there a downside?   

I confess to an artistic concern about how the earlier books would stand up when compared to the more recent.  So I read one of my backlist titles.  A few pages in – I swear this is true – I laughed out loud at something a character said.  I didn’t remember writing it.  Honestly, my memory of the characters and plot line was hazy because I’ve written a couple dozen books since this one.  But I was reassured.  The trademarks of a newer Sandra Brown were there in that backlist title.  It resonated with my “voice.”  Every author has one.  Apparently mine hasn’t changed all that much.    

Now, please understand that books of any genre written in the 80's, 90's or early 2000's aren’t going to reflect current modes of thinking. Times have changed, and I’m not talking only about technology, but about societal issues with considerable heft.   Dickensian characters speak, think, and act in a way that reflects the time period. So, if something said or done in an older Sandra Brown book jumps out at you as being horribly outdated, check the copyright date and cut me some slack, okay?    

Coincidentally, the prologue for my newest book Deadline takes place way back in 1976.  But the rest of the story is set in the present day, and my hero, Dawson Scott, suffers from a disorder we see far too often in today’s headlines: Post-Traumatic Stress.    

I went to Afghanistan in 2011 on a USO tour.  Naturally people expected me to use that experience as the backdrop for a story.  I didn’t plan to, but I suppose the seed for an idea was planted and eventually took root.     

Deadline isn’t specifically about the war. Dawson Scott isn’t a soldier, he’s a journalist.  He went to the Middle East carrying a laptop, not a rifle, but his bird’s-eye-view of the war, and its aftereffects, were similar to those of fighting men and women.    

With that premise in mind, I plotted Deadline.  I think it’s a heck of a thriller.  Even I was surprised by some of the twists!     

And how does Dawson’s conflict tie in with what happened in 1976?     

You’ll find the answer to that in the final pages of Deadline

--Sandra Brown