Dear Dad, A Novel
Dear Dad, by John Hazen, is a wonderful but harrowing read. John Foster is the son of a decorated World War II vet who grew up in small-town New England during the build-up to the Vietnam War. Eager to do his part, Foster is drawn into small disagreements with his peers and family as he battles his own misgivings about the conflict. Once in Vietnam, his resentment toward the army brass, his enemies, and his fellow soldiers grows as he’s routinely faced with the horrors of war. When he’s wounded during an attack, he awakens to find himself in 1862, where he finds a nobler purpose.
John Hazen crafts a compelling story. Foster’s background and character are fleshed out extremely well through flashbacks to his upbringing in Fairbrook, Massachusetts. We learn of his camaraderie with his childhood friend group, and there’s a touching passage about how he brings his father back from the edge after his mother’s death. These strong family bonds clash harshly with the impersonal nature he learns to adopt in the military.
Once he’s transported to the Civil War era, he is confronted with more horrors of the battlefield, but now he feels as if he is part of something worth fighting for. I really enjoyed Dear Dad, A Novel. I found Hazen’s writing remarkably easy-going and entertaining.
Each chapter was prefaced with a letter that gave a little more insight into the story. Foster’s experiences on the battlefield are truly horrific. Hazen has a sharp critique of military bureaucracy, including the incompetence of some officers, while still admirably praising men who earned their way through merit. I think anyone who likes historical fiction from the Vietnam War or the Civil War would greatly enjoy this book.
Pages 303 | ASIN B007SXID7E
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Vega Investigative Thriller Series
Beyond Revelation follows a TV reporter who races against time to save her friend and stop a sinister cult. What were some sources that informed this novel’s development?
Remember, Beyond Revelation is a book about a reporter, and a good reporter never reveals his or her sources.
A lot of research for this book came from news accounts I’ve read and heard over the years. Jonestown and the Branch Davidians are examples of cults that were big in the news during my life, so I had a knowledge of them as I wrote the book. I also made it easy on myself by making the two primary settings in the book places that I’ve lived during my life. Fairbrook, MA, is based on the small town where I grew up and the New York City metropolitan area is where I’d spent most of my life. I always try to do some reading on places I write about that I’ve never visited to get them as real as I can. In this book that would be Montana and Havana, Cuba.
What were some ideas that were important for you to personify in your characters?
My focus in this book and in the two books that preceded it in the Vega Investigative Thriller Series (Fava and Zyklon) must of course be the protagonist, Francine Vega. She’s a street-smart, New York City TV journalist. I try to portray her as having the qualities I want all journalists to have. I want her to be intelligent, persistent, questioning, and honest. Both she and her husband, FBI Special Agent Will Allen, are the epitome of integrity. I wanted them both to be the best examples they can be for their three kids.
It can be a bit tricky when you’re writing a series. After the first book, the author must present enough background on characters to inform people who haven’t read the previous editions but not too much background that you turn off or bore those who have read them. I think I’ve done that thus far in this series.
How do you balance story development with shocking plot twists? Or can they be the same thing?
I don’t believe any balance is required. They can, and should be, the same thing. In fact, I think that plot twists—shocking or otherwise—need to compliment and advance story development. They must be part of the whole. Otherwise, the plot twists look like they’re superfluous or simply inserted for shock value.
In discussing the difference between “surprise” and “suspense”, Alfred Hitchcock, used the example of a bomb taped under a table where two people are sitting. You could have the audience not know the bomb is there and then get fifteen seconds of surprised adrenaline rush when it suddenly explodes. Hitchcock would rather let the viewer know that the bomb was there ahead of time and be on the edge of their seats, not knowing if the bomb would go off or not. In this way, the audience experiences fifteen minutes, rather than fifteen seconds, of surprise. I agree with this approach. There are times and places for the unexpected, the surprise, of plot twists, but overall, I prefer the approach of building suspense over the course of a chapter or even over the arc of the entire book.
What can readers expect in book four of the Vega Thriller series?
Thus far in the Vega Investigative Thriller series we’ve had Francine expose and thwart plots that would have plunged the world into war (Fava), undermined a presidential election (Zyklon) and plunged the country into a race war (Beyond Revelation). All this has taken a toll on her. The events of Beyond Revelation were especially hard on her mentally and emotionally. In the next book, she’s going to still be the intrepid journalist who’s going to uncover stories—this time I think in the environmental field—but I will need to focus a little sharper on her personal situation and the burdens she is bearing.
Posted in Interviews
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Beyond Revelation by John Hazen follows journalist Francine Vega’s thrilling misadventures and affairs with the FBI. The life of a New York investigative journalist gets shaken up by a sudden disappearance and the consequent doubt that a cult might be behind it. Following the reporter’s investigations, the book takes us through Francine’s, or “Fava”, private life and introduces us to the mysterious world of secret cults and organizations in the United States, along with journalism and into the FBI’s alluring world.
Hazen writes beautifully and manages to give each character its own personality and uniqueness, making the plot intriguing and engaging for any reader who’s got an eye for the thriller genre. His writing style, along with the complex plot, gives the book a fascinating aura and won’t bore even the youngest and easily bored reader.
As a reader keen on details, I appreciated Hazen’s effort in describing action scenes. Sometimes writers can get lost while describing them and the result is a chaotic scene, which doesn’t allow the reader to understand its sense, but Hazen doesn’t do that. Instead, he describes them accurately and allows the reader to understand what is happening.
Furthermore, this novel doesn’t lack in action-scenes and suspenseful moments. It will keep the reader on edge throughout the story with a nice balance of heart-warming scenes as well. All of this is served well by the emotive and authentic characters, making it easy to feel empathy for the characters, even when some scenes are incredible.
With its action-filled scenes, deep intrigue, and wild plot twists, Beyond Revelation is a political thriller that is unpredictable and hard to put down. For readers who enjoy the suspense of the Jason Bourne series mixed with the compelling conspiracy of The Da Vinci Code, you’ll surely enjoy this stirring crime novel.
Pages: 257 | ASIN: B08KTQ5LSS
Posted in Book Reviews, Five Stars
Tags: action, adventure, author, Beyond Revelation, book, book recommendations, book review, book reviews, book shelf, bookblogger, books, books to read, crime fiction, ebook, fantasy, fiction, goodreads, John Hazen, kindle, kobo, literature, murder mystery, mystery, nook, novel, political thriller, read, reader, reading, story, suspense, thriller, writer, writing
It Often Comes at a Price
The Correction follows a man that has the ability to give people a chance to correct their past, but one wrong correction sends him on a perilous journey of redemption. What was the inspiration behind the idea of the ‘Correction’?
I sometimes get a concept—or more precisely a question—in my head I can’t get rid of that eventually matures and finds its way into a novel. Questions like ‘What would happen if someone came upon one of the thirty pieces of silver given to Judas for Jesus’ life?’ or ‘Is it possible to compare two wars like the Civil War and the Vietnam War that are dissimilar in so many ways?’ are examples. The Correction is no different. Even the most fortunate and luckiest person on earth has one ‘what if’ moment where they would have liked to have done something differently. Making a mistake or saying the wrong thing or making a selfish decision that hurts someone else, these foibles of the human character seemed too universal not to try to capture. In The Correction, I give a lucky few people an opportunity to go back and correct a mistake. It seems like this would be too good to be true, but like any such gift, it often comes at a price.
What were some ideas that drove Joseph Vance’s character development throughout the novel?
I wanted Joseph Vance to be an everyman but at the same time be lofty in his goals, aspirations and ideals. He is a man who has what is most dear to him stolen from him through a Correction gone wrong. He slips into despair and cynically puts his gift to improper ends, but I wanted there to remain in him a spark of the better man he is. Hopefully, that spark is enough to burst into a flame of redemption, but you’ll just have to read the book to find out!
What were some themes that were important for you to explore in this book?
I always try to infuse broader societal messages in my books even as I’m presenting personal stories and relationships. The Correction is no different. The scourge of racism plays a special role in this book. There are also stories of love, devotion and acceptance throughout the novel. I think the one theme that most permeates this book is that of second chances. Everybody deserves a second chance. The Correction presents the epitome of giving someone a second chance to correct a mistake and make amends.
What is the next book that you are working on and when will it be available?
I’ve written a series, The Vega Investigative Thriller Series, about a New York City Investigative TV Reporter, Francine Vega. She uncovers and helps thwarts plots that, if allowed to proceed to fruition, could jeopardize the safety and security of country and even the world. The third book, Beyond Revelation, came out in December and it’s time to write the fourth in the series. I’m hoping to have the next book finished by the end of the year.
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The Correction, by John Hazen, is the fascinating tale of a supernatural gift passed on from generation to generation, following the course of history and the characters’ life up to the narrator’s life. Joseph Vance, the narrator’s voice, leads us through his ancestors’ good and bad corrections and takes us through his life, where many obstacles will be placed on his way, but he’s not completely alone in overcoming them.
Hazen writes beautifully with vivid descriptions and insights on the characters’ feelings and thoughts. He manages to keep a fast pace all the way through the story. While time travel stories can get fanciful, I appreciated how grounded this supernatural thriller was which ensures that the story, and the characters, are relatable.
If you’re a reader that appreciates the details in a story, then you can certainly appreciate all the effort put in to fully flesh out these complex characters. Each has an important role to play in the story, and the dialogue and interactions with each one or subtle yet compelling. I was surprised to find to some impassioned commentary on social issues woven throughout the story. Issues like racism are addressed and provide an opportunity to really understand who are characters are and test them in some morally intriguing ways.
While I heartily enjoyed this science fiction drama, I had to get a few chapters into the novel before I felt I was sure I knew where this story was going. But diving into Joseph Vance’s life felt authentic and compelling and was something I eventually looked forward to.
The Correction, by John Hazen is a supernatural thriller that feels like it was written by Stephen King. With fully realized characters and a well-conceived and engaging plot, this was a historical thriller that kept surprising me. If you enjoy a good dramatic thriller, then I highly recommend this stimulating book.
Pages: 254 | ASIN: B094SRYXMV
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