Archive for October, 2011

Author Interview: Lisa Gardner on Love You More

Saturday, October 29th, 2011

Lisa Gardner, the New York Times bestselling suspense author of D.D.Warren Detective series, talks about her latest bestselling suspense novel of the series, Love You More in her interview with us.


When did you begin your writing and who has been the biggest inspiration behind your writing?

I started my first novel when I was six. Needless to say, it wasn’t very good. But at eighteen I tried again, and ended up producing my first suspense novel involving a prostitute who witnesses a murder, and the handsome detective who must now keep her safe. I published it when I was twenty, and have been writing thrillers ever since.

What is your personal opinion on how far one can go to save his/ her beloved?

I think the biggest life change that has impacted me as a writer has been motherhood. For one thing, until you’re a parent, you have no idea how many things there are to fear! Suddenly, here is this tiny life that is vulnerable and needy in every way. How can you not go to the ends of the earth to care for and nurture your child?

I think love is inspiring. It brings out the best in us, makes us discover skills and determination we never knew we had. Certainly, motherly love is a force to be reckoned with in Love You More.

Tell us the basic concept of Love you More.

A state police officer has confessed to killing her own husband. Their six-year old daughter, however, is missing. Enter Detective D.D. Warren, who must both investigate the murder as well as race-against-the-clock to rescue a missing child. It’s a very intense novel, but it’s also cathartic. It’s really about how far you would go to save the one you love.

How do you develop your characters to contribute a major part in the plot development?

I only wish I had a master plan for developing my characters. When I start a novel, I purposefully don’t define my characters. I wait and see how they develop. Interestingly enough, at the beginning of my career I was a big planner—outlined character development, plot, everything—and I think those novels aren’t nearly as tight as my more recent novels which had no plan at all. My characters now are both good and bad, which makes the plots twists more logical, believable and exciting. At least I hope so!

How do you portray the character of D.D.Warren as one of the most convincing protagonist?

As a hard-working detective, as well as a person, D.D. Warren has evolved over the course of the series in interesting and compelling ways. She’s always been aggressive, determined and neurotic. Now, real life has caught up with her. Heaven help her, she fell in love. And, in the opening pages of Love You More, she’s facing another major life change—pregnancy. Can a successful career cop have a happy home life? This is what D.D. wonders, fears, desires. She’s becoming a fully-evolved human being and it’s good for her.

Does D.D.Warren identify with the inner turmoil of Tessa Leoni on a personal level?

Definitely one of the themes of Love You More is motherhood. Boston Detective D.D. Warren, who’s just discovered she’s pregnant, must investigate a fellow police officer accused of doing something terrible to her missing six-year old daughter. It forces D.D. to wonder about motherhood, love, the demands of the job. But Tessa, all along, continues to challenge D.D. as well. Would a mother really harm her own child? Or would she go to the ends of the earth to save her? That’s the central question in Love You More.

Who do you think is stronger- D.D.Warren or Tessa Leoni?

I think part of the suspense in Love You More is that they are both strong in their own way, leading to a battle of wits. Tessa is more street smart, not to mention desperate. But D.D. brings strategy and clear-eyed observations to the investigation. The book is off and running from there.

The “method of alternating chapters” weaves both stories of love and mystery in an amazing way- how far do you agree?

Love You More is my first experience writing the “unreliable narrator” novel. Basically the story, in alternating chapters, is told by two separate characters. One, my main character D.D. Warren who is investigating the case. The second, being Tessa Leoni, a state police officer who admits she killed her husband, but claims it was in self-defense. That’s all pretty straight forward. Except, where is Tessa’s six-year old daughter? From the very beginning, you know Tessa isn’t telling you everything. It’s the depths of her secrets combined with the poignancy of her memories of her husband that I hope keeps you riveted, page by page, chapter by chapter.

How do you sustain the suspense from the first page to the last one?

Research is a major influence for me. For Love You More, I interviewed state police officers, as well as went on patrol with a female officer. Understanding the day to day dynamics of the job helped me come up with many of the complications driving the suspense. I also spent quality time at the Body Farm in Knoxville, Tennessee, learning about cadaver recovery and establishing time of death of skeletal remains. Working with the forensic anthropologist there, I came up with the search scene in the woods, which I think is one of the most tense and shocking moments of the novel. As they say, real life is stranger than fiction, so I look to bring a lot of real life to my thrillers.

Who has been your favorite mystery author? And which are your favorite books?

I grew up reading Erle Stanley Gardner, of Perry Mason fame. I also love Stephen King and John Saul. Most recently, I follow Karin Slaughter, Tess Gerritsen and Lee Child. Basically, I love anything that involves a dark and stormy night, a woman in distress, and a really great puzzle. Fortunately, that gives me lots of great books to read.

What message do you have for your readers?

Thank you for reading! Writing novels is my most favorite job in the world, and I feel so fortunate to have so many people out there who love to read the books almost as much as I love to write them. And D.D. has so many more great adventures ahead. Next, she must investigate a vigilante killer who is murdering sex offenders in the city of Boston. Complicating matters—the appearance of a girl claiming she will be murdered in four days and she’d like D.D. to handle her case. Can D.D. stop a murder in time? It will be fun to find out!

Don’t Tie That Bow

Thursday, October 27th, 2011

Author: Christine Johnson

My most recently published novel, NOCTURNE, was not only the sequel to CLAIRE DE LUNE, it was also the end of the series. (There’s a fancy word for this: it’s called a duology, which is just like a trilogy only with one less book.) Writing the end of something – whether it’s a standalone novel or a ten book series – is always a tricky proposition.

 If the plot is good, and well-knit, and pleasingly complex, there are necessarily threads to be tied up. And I don’t mean the main climax that the novel’s driving towards. That’s obvious. That’s the *easy* part. But once the ship blows up and the characters save one another and there’s kissing in front of the raging inferno (or . . . you know . . . whatever your book’s climax is) – that’s when you have to figure out what to do with all those subplot threads.

I’m not a particular fan of having *everything* in a book tied up in a neat bow. When that’s how a story ends, I find that after I finish reading it, the story goes right out of my head. I don’t think of it again. The characters don’t stay with me. Conversely, when a book is too open ended, readers are often left feeling unsatisfied. It’s a hard balance to strike, and of course it’s important to remember that you can’t please all of the people all of the time.

For me, I find books most successful if they leave a few “soft” points at the end. Did the protagonist have a fight with her best friend? Then perhaps they make up but it seems shaky. Did all of the ship exploding and kissing and whatnot make it impossible for the main character to continue working at their day job? Maybe we don’t see that completely resolved . . . perhaps the book ends with a help wanted add Little hints – little openings that insinuate that a character’s life continues past the last page help make the end of a story satisfying while ensuring that the sense of story lingers past the book’s final lines.

Lots of people are amazing at this. Particularly, when I’m working on the endings to my own novels (which tend toward too open ended, rather than too neatly wrapped up,) I look at Meg Rosoff, Sarah Rees Brennan, and Kate Milford. All three of them end books/series remarkably well.

Again, though, this is something where everyone has a different opinion. I’m always interested to hear from readers and writers – how do you like the books/series you read to end: Nice and neat or with lots of space for imagining? If you write, do you like to write the same sort of endings you like to read?

Book Review: The Book Thief by Markus Zusak

Tuesday, October 25th, 2011

Author: Sherry Helms

“…I’m always finding humans at their best and worst. I see their ugly and their beauty, and I wonder how the same thing can be both.”-  muses Death, the narrator in The Book Thief.

Markus Zusak, the bestselling author of children’s books, amazes his fans and readers with his debut adult novel The Book Thief. He has been triumphantly successful through this extraordinary elegant fiction, a very rare kind of book in the modern history of fiction- writing. Though the book is set in the background of Nazi regime, it is relevant to the whole world where book burnings, treachery and theft have been very frequent happenings. The book is a must- read for all to learn the “importance of words” in our lives, societies and cultures.

“Death” is the narrator of the story of nine-year old Liesel who steals many books during the carnage of the Second World War. Liesel along with her fellow inhabitants find their lives getting changed through the printed words on the pages of the books and the horrendous happenings around them. Though the narrator of the book is grim “Death”, it reaffirms life in a new sense emphasizing the influence of words on our souls. Though the book is set in the era of Second World War in Germany, it still holds its ground firmly as a contemporary book in this 21st century, a must- read for any civilized society.

The narrator “Death” moves your emotions profoundly and stirs all the images of Nazi Germany, friendship and loss inside your soul in the most vivid, wonderful and tragic way. Zusak’s extraordinary command over language brings Liesel and her world to life and you can also identify with Liesel’s world on a personal level. You can learn a lesson of your life from this little young girl how to stand strong to face the human tragedy and world- ruining hatreds. This is entirely a new and unique plot for a novel, bound to steal your heart, change your mind, move your soul and heal your wounds.

Read it must to realize the ability of books to feed your soul. The Book Thief will be an unforgettable read for you. 

Popular Halloween Books: Time for Some Funny, Spooky Reads

Monday, October 24th, 2011

Author: Sherry Helms

What are the best gifts you can have this Halloween for your kids, friends and family? Apart from gifting costumes and toys and throwing parties for celebrations there is always something that would suit best as gifts on any occasion. And those are called books- as this is time for some really scary, spooky as well as fun and entertaining reads.

Observe this Halloween with best scary stories reading them loud to your kids. Here is a list of some special books for all Halloween observers:

Something Wicked This Way Comes: To begin with the Halloween Week in the best way, there is no better scary book for you than this one by Ray Bradbury. It’s a true literary classic that would give you sleepless nights in this season of horror. It is a wonderful novel about the battle between good and evil, presented by some charming characters with tremendous feeling of horror and suspense. Feel the chill of the Halloween night to the core of your heart.

The Graveyard Book: Neil Gaiman keeps you engaged this Halloween with his The Graveyard Book, a novel on life and death and significance of family. It’s a delightful mixing of horror and fantasy that would simply add to your loads of fun on this Halloween week. This book is highly recommended for those who want to relive their best childhood read- The Jungle Book.

The Legend of Sleepy Hollow: What is Halloween without the ‘Headless Horseman’ riding through the spooky woods? Washington Irving simply leaves you surprised with this simple and beautiful piece of writing. It does not shiver up your spine and quake you up in fear, rather it tells a ghost story related to everyday people in everyday situations. On the coming Halloween just keep wondering whether the story of the ‘Headless Horseman’ is real or not.

The Little Old Lady Who Was Not Afraid of Anything: The little old lady who never dared anything in her whole life suddenly gets scared by the spooky sounds on a Halloween Night. This is a funny Halloween story perfect for gifting your toddler on this festive season. Every kid must read it on Halloween day.

Big Pumpkin: Another rollicking story for children, to be read on the Halloween night. Every necessary frightening element for a perfect Halloween night is present here to get the hold of the big pumpkin- witch, vampire, ghost, bat and also a mummy. It is a not so scary big fun read. The incredible illustrations make the book a true Halloween treat for all young kids.

Ghosts in the House: This is a story of a little witch living in a haunted house knowing the tricks of handling the ghosts. With brilliant illustrations, this is a sweet, scary and amazing Halloween story highly recommended for the youngest trick or treaters.

The Halloween Tree: Meet the mysterious Mr. Moundshroud who along with the eight boys takes you on a journey back through the centuries to discover the real meaning of Halloween. The black and white illustrations will send you shivers of terror and delight on the dark Halloween night. You just can’t miss this breathtaking Bradbury book on the occasion of Halloween.

Wish you many more happy readings on the eve of Halloween at

Book Review: A Stolen Life by Jaycee Dugard

Friday, October 21st, 2011

Author: Sherry Helms

When was the last time you cried your heart out while reading a book? Jaycee Dugards’s haunting memoir A Stolen Life, a tale of survival and pain compels you to cry out loud with the agonies of the protagonist.

It is a true story of the author’s own life, the tale of her 18 year long imprisonment, the mental and physical traumas she went through during this long period and the strategies of her survival with full dignity. This is a story full of hope and courage leading you towards a brighter future.

What happens when suddenly one day someone’s life gets completely changed from a normal human’s life to a prisoner’s one? A prisoner for eighteen years, an object for someone to use and abuse, forced to forget her own name, forced to become a mother and then a sister- this was the horrible situation of Jaycee’s life during her long eighteen years captivity.

Still she never did give up, she never considered herself as a poor victim, and she learnt how to survive with dignity in the most hostile situation. And finally on August 26, 2009 she got her name back- Jaycee Lee Dugard- the absolute survivor in this insane, cruel human world. This is the story of Jaycee, in her own words, in her own style, just as she remembers it in her own way.

The book is beautifully written about missing her mother the most, her growing dependence on her kidnapper, her getting isolated from the outer world. This is a heartwarming tale where you will have happy tears on your eyes with its happy and hopeful ending. You will simply get amazed with the positive energy she has carried within her in all the hard times.

A Stolen Life- the ultimate courageous book inspiring you to regain your voice and power.  Learn to grow a desperate willpower and determination to snatch your freedom. It is highly worth reading. 

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